The theater community is enraged over a promotional tweet sent by AT&T. The tweet encouraged users to watch football games on their mobile phones during theater performances.
Cell phone use during performances has raised the ire of the theater community lately. As we reported a few months ago, a theatergoer at the Broadway play Hand to God actually jumped onto the stage prior to a performance to plug his cell phone into an on stage outlet to charge. Never mind that the outlet was actually fake, the man was promptly removed from the stage, to the cheers of the astounded audience.
Only days later, during a performance of her latest play Shows for Days, Broadway diva Patti Lupone walked into the audience just prior to intermission and physically removed the cell phone of an audience member who was texting during the show. The audience cheered, and the offending member was forced to sheepishly retrieve his phone from the stage manager at the end of the show.
The incidents were widely reported in the media, and one would think that the folks over at AT&T would have gotten the message, but instead, the company just released a tweet designed specifically to encourage the same sort of rude activity. The AT&T tweet pictured a mobile phone user brashly watching a football game during a theater performance and read "Don't let life get between you and football," with "Catch a winning play at the theater" superimposed on the theater curtains.
Predictably, the theater community is up in arms over the tweet. Former Wicked star Julia Murney tweeted back: "Hey, @att — you forgot to add in the fine print how utterly obnoxious this behavior is. #shameonyou #hereicometmobile," while "Spring Awakening" star Andy Mientus wrote: "Stay home because this behavior is against the rules at the theater and totally rude to everyone in the building."
AT&T responded with a carefully-worded statement that attempts to argue that the company was just kidding: "Certainly it's evident our ads take place in an alternate reality and are not meant to be taken literally. The broad concept of the campaign is that you see content just about anywhere," the company wrote.
It appears AT&T's copywriters are living in that alternative reality if they think this will wash with the theater community.