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Worst of the Week: Sprint listens while T-Mobile yells

WOTW takes apart this week’s divergent marketing moves from T-Mobile and Sprint, finding sometimes it’s better to listen than yell

Hello! And welcome to our Friday column, Worst of the Week. There’s a lot of nutty stuff that goes on in this industry, so this column is a chance for us at to rant and rave about whatever rubs us the wrong way. We hope you enjoy it!
This past week witnessed two very interesting developments across the domestic mobile telecom space: one expected, the other less so. And as in most cases, it was the unexpected one that I found most appealing.
First, the expected announcement.
T-Mobile US moved forward with its “Un-carrier 11” show, which provides for free stuff every Tuesday and company stock (stock?) to various segments of its customer base. T-Mobile US CEO John Legere was so excited about the announcement he literally screamed it into peoples’ faces.

Generally, I have found the louder someone yells about something, the less interesting that something really is. And in this case, that generality held, bolstered by this great example of someone speaking softly and thus making what they say much more interesting.

I guess if any yelling needed to be done connected with “Un-carrier 11” it could have been directed at those involved behind the scenes. The program centered on the T-Mobile Tuesday applications, which was available just after the big announcement on Monday, and of course crashed the following day when untold millions tried to use it.
Look, I like free stuff as much as the next person, though as I have advanced in age the thought of a free pizza and desert had me thinking more about my cholesterol than having a free meal. But, in the overall picture of what T-Mobile US has done in the past with its “Un-carrier” announcements – as feared – this one was sort of lame. Sure, not as lame as “Un-carrier 3.0 Pt. 2: Electric Boogaloo,” but since it fell right behind maybe the greatest un-carrier event in “Un-carrier 10: Binge On’s revenge” the logic of No. 11 was hard to understand.

Let’s hope “Un-carrier 12” gets the carrier back on track.
By contrast, Sprint this week subtly launched a new advertising campaign centered on a familiar face.

That’s right, Sprint took a page out of Verizon Wireless’ successful network campaign, as well as the Verizon Wireless spokesman. Brilliant!

Sure, he may be a few pounds heavier and his hair may be a bit thinner on top, but dang if it’s not good to see someone who drove a phrase so deep into our social conscience it came out the other side as horrible stand up comedy routines.

That’s deep.
I do have to admit it was so awesome to see this familiar face that I had to watch the new Sprint commercial a few times to catch the odd angle the carrier is attempting to push with its new spokesman.
Everyone has basically the same network coverage? Sprint’s network is within 1% of Verizon? What the hell, Sprint?!?
I know you are trying to regain consumer trust in your network, but what’s wrong with some color-coded maps and numbers that no one has any idea what they mean?!? Or better yet, what happened to directly slamming the competition with screaming goats and a driving beat?!?
Where’s the fire?
I guess to give Sprint some credit, word is the carrier may bring back more beloved wireless carrier spokespeople from the past in its attempt to tickle everyone’s soft spot for nostalgia.
Not that I was asked, but may I suggest a few?
How about the Cricket couch:

The Boost Mobile Loopt peeps:

This guy:

There is so much potential and possibility for where Sprint can go with its new advertising campaign, and all without having to yell in my face.
I know Sprint has a long way to go in terms of even being considered on the same operational level as T-Mobile US, Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility, but what better way to get there than to just copy what those carriers did to gain their success.
I guess the only place I would suggest Sprint maybe pump the brakes in copying its rivals is in trying to help self-hyping events where you need to crank the amps up to 11 in order to get across just how awesome you are.

Thanks for checking out this week’s column. Here’s a quick extra to get you through the weekend:
• This was from a few weeks back, but an email with the subject line: “50 Cent is NOT an investor in Siam smartphone” managed to avoid my rapid-fire “trash” finger.
The email explained that despite a “viral” video claiming some sort of connection between Curtis James Jackson III, aka 50 Cent, and the Siam 7X smartphone, said hip-hop artist was not an investor or associated in any way with said device beyond the bundling of his ear buds with the sale of the device.
And, yes I did spend about five minutes looking for this video connection, but came up empty-handed.
I understand the importance of celebrity endorsements, especially for brands trying to make a name for themselves in a very competitive market, but it seems in this case Siam sidestepped said business model by attempting to gain traction by stating it was not associated with a certain celebrity. And in turn used that brilliant strategy to get me to not immediately send its email into the trash. Thus I somehow now have useless random knowledge about both the Siam smartphone and it not being connected with 50 Cent.
Well played.
I welcome your comments. Please send me an e-mail at [email protected].
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