Archive for January, 2011

Are you a sociopath? Become a Sprint customer!

January 25, 2011 1 comment

Sprint, according to Research and Markets, is expected to hemorrhage market share over the next five years. So Sprint—which does not have access to the iPhone—has decided to become aggressive in their pricing. Their current pricing promotion is that $69.99 gets you unlimited everything, while it only gets you voice calling with “the other guys.”

It’s an interesting promotion, because it goes directly after the smartphone power users that Verizon and AT&T have made their corporate money on over the last few years. But one of their advertising campaigns gets it all wrong.

In one ad, a sports doctor tells a severely injured football player that he shouldn’t worry: the video of the player getting injured, the changes to the doctor’s fantasy team, and the texts he’s sending are all included in Sprint’s monthly service. In another, a woman breaks up with her boyfriend while texting him at their table in the restaurant; she tells him it’s okay, because her Facebook updates (to single) and dating-site browsing is all included in Sprint’s monthly service.

This is intended to be funny, and it is, in a 30 Rock/The Office uncomfortable-humor kind of way. Many participants in online forums praise the spots’ humor, rightly calling out that it’s satire. And lo, much LOLing was had.

The problem is that Sprint wants the viewer to be a Sprint customer. And the Sprint customers in the commercials, as absurd and satirical as they are, are horrible human beings. They completely lack empathy for the people they’re with. They are nasty, clueless people. And Sprint is implying, through the ad, that they want the viewer to be just as horrible as their customers. This ad casts Sprint customers in a negative light; I suggest that in many viewers, it will provoke an emotional reaction in that they don’t want to be identified as Sprint customers. I certainly don’t want to be Dr. Douche.

Is this situation funny enough to save this commercial? Is there a way Sprint could have formulated this ad without implying that their customers are sociopaths?