Why the Verizon Rep’s Sprint Defection is Smart Marketing

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Why the Verizon Rep’s Sprint Defection is Smart Marketing

“Can you hear me now?”

Without thinking, you can probably picture the person speaking and know the reason why. It’s the spokesman from Verizon’s old advertising campaign demonstrating via countless ads in many different locations the power of Verizon’s vast nationwide network.

It’s a tribute to Verizon’s marketing team and agency that this phrase became iconic for Verizon’s network reliability.

Which makes it even more impactful from a marketing standpoint that Mr. Can-You-Hear Me-Now himself, Paul Marcarelli, has switched to Verizon competitor Sprint.

In the new Sprint campaign, Marcarelli quickly dismisses Verizon’s position as the vendor with the best network as old news, noting breezily that, “Guess what? It’s 2016 and every network is great.

He then pivots to Sprint’s advantages over its competitors: Sprint’s “reliability is now within 1% of Verizon. And Sprint saves you 50% on most Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile rates.”

As a marketing consultant, I think this is brilliant and a major coup for Sprint. Here’s why the new Sprint campaign is such a smart marketing strategy:

  1. It’s attention-getting: Anyone who watched TV in the last decade will immediately recognize the man on camera and pay attention. “Hey, it’s the Verizon guy. I remember him – what’s he up to?”
  2. It feels authentic: For the first time, we learn the true identity of “the Verizon guy” and how he really feels about phone carriers.
  3. It’s surprising: The person you think you know is not who you expect him to be. In real life, the paid Verizon spokesperson gets his phone service from someone else. Boom.
  4. It makes you rethink the Sprint v. Verizon comparison. The ad’s premise negates the primary customer benefit Verizon has promoted for as long as we can remember, creating an opening for Sprint to convince phone users to reevaluate their assumptions about carriers.

If you love marketing and advertising like I do, you have to love a campaign that succeeds on so many levels in shaking up a very competitive marketplace.

Hats off to Sprint and its agency, Deutsch, for turning an advertising icon into something unexpected and new. Can you hear that? Yes, we can.

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