Most Insulting. Commercial. Ever.
By Ken Magill
If there was ever a commercial that should make us weep for the state of advertising in America, Sprint’s shrieking ditz ad is it.
The ad opens with four women who were apparently isolated from all human contact after graduating fifth grade gathered at an evening outdoor barbecue.
“Did you hear the new iPhone is out?” asks one of the four shrieking insultingly shallow ditzes in the ad.
“I’m Getting Onnnnnnne!!!” shrieks a blonde played by Judy Greer in response.
“Ahhhhhh!!” the three other idiots shriek.
“Sprint is offering this exclusive new plan with unlimited data!” continues Greer.
“Ahhhhhh!!” the other idiots shriek.
“The plan is only fifty dollars a month!” shrieks Greer.
“Fifty dollars?!” gasps another.
“Unlimited iPhone?!” shrieks another.
Then all four women shriek at such a pitch the glassware at the party breaks.
Ads in the 50s didn’t treat women as such vacuous dolts.
Think about the process this ad had to have gone through to get produced and aired. Someone had to come up with the concept and write it. A group of ad-agency executives had to have pitched it to a group of Sprint executives. Sprint executives had to have approved it.
What were these people thinking? And how dysfunctional is Sprint’s corporate culture that this ad could have ever seen the light of day?
On the day this ad was pitched, either the room was filled with a bunch of blithering idiots or the ones who were aware enough to spot the ad for the insulting drivel it is were too cowed to speak up.
Sprint is reportedly hunting for a new lead creative agency.
In the Nikkei Asian Review in January, Masayoshi Son, CEO of Sprint’s parent Softbank wrote: “At one recent meeting, I learned that our advertising at Sprint was not cost-effective. This made me quite angry. Sprint spends a large amount of money on advertising every year, but its effects have been almost negligible. I directed the Sprint executives to terminate all existing contracts with the company's advertising agencies. We will shortly start from scratch on advertising, with new agents also making proposals.”
Marketing’s two most powerful sales levers are fear and greed. The $50-a-month-for-unlimited-data offer pulls the greed lever well enough.
But fear? The only fear at work in this ad is the fear people might think someone considering a Sprint iPhone deal might identify with a group of women conducting themselves like shrieking middle-school girls.
Most of us hated those girls in school. And now Sprint is using them to sell iPhone contracts?
Then again, this is the company that touted its “Framily” plan with the Frobinsons, a multi-racial family headed by a talking hamster.
The only defense of Sprint’s shrieking ditz ad is it is an attempt to break through clutter and get the attention of multi-taskers tapping on their tablets or smartphones while half paying attention to TV.
According to Adweek, Sprint spent $138 million on TV in the first quarter of this year. If annoyingly shrieking women are what it takes to get people to divert their attention, maybe Sprint should be sinking more money into the channels that already have people’s attention.