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Advertising & Marketing | AD REVIEWS / DENISE GELLENE

Sprint Makes Bad Call on TV Commercial

November 12, 1998|DENISE GELLENE

Advertiser: Sprint Corp.

Agency: McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York

Challenge: Launch Sprint Unlimited, a new flat-rate long-distance calling service.

The Ads: A TV commercial follows a man through his workday, which begins when he takes a phone call while brushing his teeth. By the end of a busy day on the phone ("When were you not on the phone?" a voice-over asks) the young executive looks a little stressed out. Before he can take another call, the scene mercifully cuts to a rural autumn landscape, where a ballerina dances and a herd of kids in khakis and white cable-knit sweaters runs. A voice-over explains the features of Sprint Unlimited and adds: "Welcome to a world created around you. Why live in a world that isn't?" A second, shorter TV spot begins with an executive loosening his tie as he leaves an office tower. The scene then shifts to the autumn pastoral.

Comment: So what is Sprint pitching? A land without phones? It shows us a harried executive who spends every minute on the phone, then shows us a peaceful utopia where people dance and play without so much as a beeper clipped to their belts. Actually, Sprint is promoting a calling plan that it hopes will lure customers from competitors and encourage people to call more. Not exactly an elixir for a guy who already seems talked out. (For the curious, the rate is unlimited weekend calling for $25 a month and a dime a minute on weekdays.) The imagery in this spot, the first from Sprint's new advertising agency, is utterly incongruous. $+

*

Ads are rated from $ to $$$$, based on tastefulness and probable effectiveness, with $$$$ being highest.

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