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Ken Magill

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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.
No kidding.
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.

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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Danielle Brooks - too old to shriek. About anything....
Date: 2014-10-15 19:31:46
Subject: Excited young women.....?

Yup, Ken, you did NOT exaggerate - the Sprint ad has me baffled. It appears that you and I are not the market they are trying to grab. Have you polled the 18-year old set? I only ask, cuz I think these gals were sitting at the table next to mine last nite at Rosemary's Restaurant in the Village. Perhaps it is they, who are up for the shrieking new iphones from Sprint
Posted by: Margaret
Date: 2014-10-15 10:06:34
Subject: like nails on a chalkboard

great article. first time I saw this ad my jaw dropped and my ears every time it comes on I either quickly mute or switch channels...although there have been a time or two the commercial was also running on the channel I switched to so mute is now my go to button. Horrible ad.
Posted by: beth
Date: 2014-10-15 09:18:32
Subject: right on

thank you for this article. i was astounded when i first saw this ad. were there no women involved with the decision to create and air this monstrosity? truly unbelievable.