Traitor! At least, that's what the PR departments at Verizon were likely screaming at their TVs yesterday. Sprint debuted a brand-new ad during Game Two of the NBA finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. In it, a very familiar character appears: Verizon's former "can you hear me now?" guy, actor Paul Marcarelli.
And yes, Sprint is doing everything it can to stick it to Verizon in its commercials, one of which is simple titled, "Paul Switched."
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"Hey! I'm Paul, and I used to ask if you can hear me now with Verizon. Not anymore. I'm with Sprint now because, guess what? It's 2016 and every network is great," he starts off. And you can probably guess what comes next.
"In fact, Sprint's reliability is now within 1 percent of Verizon, and Sprint saves you 50 percent on most Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile rates. So I switched to Sprint, and millions more have too. Can you hear that?"
As The Verge notes, Sprint's approach is decidedly more kumbaya than that of its rivals. In Sprint's new marketing, all the carriers are basically equal, and Sprint is just as good as (and claims to be cheaper than) everybody else. That's a stark contrast to how T-Mobile pitches its network and business, with the company even going as far as to develop a drinking game for Verizon's earnings calls.
That's not to say that Sprint hasn't tried to swing a few punches of its own. Recently, the company pulled an advertisement that featured an actor describing T-Mobile as "ghetto" when talking about the carrier with Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure. Whoops.
"My job is to listen to consumers. Our point was to share customer views. Bad judgment on our part. Apologies. Taking the video down," Claure tweeted in April.
There's certainly no love lost between the carriers—even more so that Sprint is now basically using Verizon's older marketing campaign against it. We'll be curious to see how long it takes before Sprint takes the gloves off again. Or, better yet, T-Mobile CEO John Legere chimes in with his own, unique take on this marketing trade-off. You know he'll have one; he always has one.
Of course, Claure enjoys getting in his little Twitter digs, too. "Good evening @Verizon – someone special just joined #TeamSprint & I think you may recognize him…," he wrote yesterday.