Commentary

T-Mobile Ran 4 Ads In The Super Bowl - Why?

To announce some important news during the game? Not really? Free tacos every Tuesday from Taco Bell; a single Lyft ride “this Tuesday”? Paying off your current competitive carrier is hardly jaw-dropping in the mobile marketing arena. 

To announce their proposed five, so-called T-Mobile/Sprint “Customer Experience Centers” that might employ thousands as a result of the possible merger? Apparently not!

To announce that T-Mobile CEO John Legere and his executive team will never again stay at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., when there are merger reviews? Always unlikely! Would have been fun and impactful?

To announce, according to John Legere, that the proposed new Customer Experience Centers “…will give even more customers across the U.S. the rock star treatment they deserve!” Or perhaps to remind T-Mobile customers that T-Mobile is “dedicated to you and your happiness” via its new Team of Experts customer service plan announced last summer.  You must be kidding?

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That's certainly not based on their current appalling customer service record, but perhaps T-Mobile considers free tacos and a Lyft ride a meaningful alternative? 

To reach a massive diverse audience over a few hours on a single day? Doubtful. I am certain that at least their media agency is aware of the value of ‘recency’ for campaigns as espoused by the media legend Erwin Ephron. (Recency strategies have been established as generally more effective for brands for a given budget by delivering maximum target reach — propinquity — spread over 365 days, notably when compared to a single Super Bowl 30’ ad weighing in at $5+ million.) 

To offset the 30-second Sprint Ad that ran in the Super Bowl? Maybe? Roger Sole, CMO, Sprint stated: “We have to act as if it’s (the merger) is not happening.” In its Super Bowl pre-released ad version, Sprint identifies ATT & Verizon yet omits T-Mobile. Hmm.

So then why? Crystal clear, in my opinion. 

The answer? (drumroll please!): To heavily influence the various federal government departments and commissions that it needs to approve the $26 billion T-Mobile/Sprint merger. Surely a brilliant marketing sleight-of-hand?

Like most large companies today, T-Mobile uses the most pathetic but cunning phrase in U.S. customer service. “This call will be monitored for quality purposes” (AKA: “We actually don’t give a damn!) However, at T-Mobile, you will speak to someone in the U.S. rather than someone abroad. There are, of course, some companies that really deliver on “quality” and always “go above & beyond” when there is a genuine serious product issue, e.g., Amazon, Costco.  

T-Mobile receives horrendous negative comments regarding their customer service on various web sites. This is due, I suggest, to its failure to “go above or beyond” and “lie all the way” about customer-service culture regarding genuine serious issues.

According to Callie Field, executive vice president, customer care, on the T-Mobile web corporate website, she “…is an advocate of the customer experience committed to eliminating customer pain points.”  So, Ms. Field, why are so many T-Mobile customers “in pain”? Will the tacos relieve the pain? I doubt it!

It should be noted that at the time of writing, neither Nick Drake, executive vice president, marketing & experience, T-Mobile, or his executive associates had fulfilled repeated requests for an interview.  

The evidence suggests that the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint “Customer Experience Centers” will be merely window dressing for the various government committees aimed at adding jobs that will never materialize or will continue to fail customers, due to the edict driven by senior executives that denies any culpability for T-Mobile’s misfeasance. 

Those customers will need to explore the widest array of mobile service competitors possible, including Sprint.  

This proposed merger’s various marketing sleights-of-hand are in addition to the potential elimination of thousands of jobs as estimated by the Communication Workers of America, versus whatever T-Mobile’s paid experts from NERA Economic Consulting suggest will be added. Possible translation for the NERA research? What results would you like? How much money do you have?  

Last month, I wrote an article with the rhetorical question “Is Microsoft too big to give a damn?”  

Unfortunately, it is clear this same question must be posited for T-Mobile, especially in view of the proposed $26 billion merger with Sprint. This merger should be re-addressed by the National Security Panel and continue to be fully explored by the Department of Justice, the Federal Communications Commission, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Judiciary Committee.  

To the various members of the government departments, commissions and committees reviewing this proposed merger: Trust you enjoyed the Super Bowl as well as the T-Mobile & Sprint commercials which were …? You may even want to enjoy a taco on Tuesdays.

 However, do not be hood-winked. This merger must be denied!  

3 comments about "T-Mobile Ran 4 Ads In The Super Bowl - Why?".
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  1. John Grono from GAP Research, February 5, 2019 at 8:26 p.m.

    Music to my ears Tony.

    It is a joy to see the following words ... Erwin Ephron ... recency strategies ... propinquity.

    If you only get to know three things about media strategy and planning make sure it is those three.

  2. pj bednarski from MediaPost.com, February 8, 2019 at 12:17 p.m.

     I have never heard of any brand that has used advertising to sway pubic opinion. Is that even legal?

  3. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy replied, February 11, 2019 at 12:54 p.m.

    Based on T-Mobile's bogus customer offers and the blatant dishonesty exhibited by their customer service teams, I would suggest that their Super Bowl Ad efforts were purposely covert versus overt in terms of influening the various Governement bodies involved in the proposed take-over of Sprint.  From a marketing perspective another key question evolves.  Should Taco Bell and Lyft have tied themeselves to a company that consistently handles serious customer issues so appallingly?  As T-Mobile is clearly to big to give a damn let's hope the Government denies this proposed merger.  Sprint could surely pick up a ton of customers? 

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