at the intersection of brands, media and culture

Sprint, Stop, Sprint

In advertising, Brands, communications, marketing, strategy on November 17, 2008 at 4:37 pm

Nothing makes me sadder than seeing clients throw their money away, even if they aren’t my clients. In particular I’m struggling with the new Sprint commericals that have been innundateing me lately. The spots are beautiful in black and white, have some nice emotional background music and CEO Dan Hesse talking to the camera — that said, they seem completely off strategy.

Let’s start with Dan Hesse.  There are traditionally two occassions when CEO’s become spokesmen.  Firstly, when the company is in dire financial straights or have just wronged their consumer (see United and Jet Blue), the second one is when the CEO is an icon which arguably adds value to the campaign (Paul Newman, Bill Gates, Lee Iacocca). I think this may be a case of finanical difficulties trumping common sense.

Secondly, most of them don’t actually say anything that is differentiated. This is a problem beyond advertising for Sprint, but if you are going to interrupt people and ask them to pay attention to you, please have something to say or at least some entertainment to offer. These spots do neither.

Part of the problem lies at the feet of the business of course. Sprint was depositioned in terms of coverage by Verizon and at&t, they lost out on the iPhone to at&t, The Gphone to T-Mobile, they have lost their hold on push-to-talk to Verizon and then their all inclusive plan was quickly countered by everyone else on the market.

At the end of the day, Sprint is in some trouble. I’d take some of that advertising budget and put it into innovation/research in order to find a differentiating proposition for the brand, rather than simply rolling out Dan Hesse.  He must have better things to do with his time.

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