Verizon keeps needling AT&T with three new Christmas ads

The jabs continue as court sets hearing date on AT&T's lawsuit to pull ads

Three new TV ads from Verizon Wireless escalated the battle with AT&T over fast 3G wireless coverage, this time with a sarcastic Christmas theme that belittles the iPhone.

The ads began appearing over the weekend, less than a week after AT&T filed a lawsuit in federal district court saying the original 3G ad was misleading. AT&T is seeking an injunction against that earlier Verizon ad with the theme "There's a map for that," and a federal court has set Nov. 18 for a hearing on the matter.

The new ads all claim that Verizon has five times more 3G coverage than AT&T. One is titled "Verizon Misfit Toys," and the others are "Verizon Elves" and "Verizon Blue Christmas."

The Misfit Toys ad features animated playthings that are initially impressed with the iPhone. But when a nationwide AT&T wireless coverage map pops up over iPhone's head, showing 3G coverage in blue, the map wilts and the toys moan, "Ohhh...." A toy airplane then spins lamely and says, "You're gonna fit right in here," and laughs before crashing as a voice-over narrator says Verizon has five times the 3G coverage of AT&T and will service several different models of wireless devices.

The ads appeared just after Verizon launched sales on Friday of the Motorola Droid smartphone, giving a Verizon spokesman the chance to say that the AT&T network was the killer of the iPhone, not just the new Droid.

Today, Verizon spokesman Michael Murphy said Verizon's promotion of its 3G network capabilities are its main message, not simply the marketing of its Droid or any single device. Separately, at least one analyst said that Verizon may add a smaller version of the iPhone to its smartphone lineup next year.

"Verizon Wireless has built the nation's premier 3G racetrack, and our product portfolio illustrates that manufacturers are showing up to the track with their best devices," Murphy said. "When you pair up the right device on the right network, it's the customer that wins."

An AT&T spokesman said, "We will let our actions speak for themselves, but we are not going to comment further."

Meanwhile, the U.S. District Court for Northern Georgia posted online a court date for AT&T's request for a temporary injunction that would cease the airing of at least the original ad. The hearing on the temporary injunction was set for Nov. 18 before Judge Timothy Batten.

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