Sprint Customer Listening Tour Goes Sour, Company Has To Pull Ad Calling T-Mobile A 'Ghetto'

from the bungled-PR dept

Poor Sprint. Ever since T-Mobile became the darling of the wireless industry simply for treating consumers well (ingenious!), Sprint hasn't quite known what to do with itself. After T-Mobile leap-frogged Sprint to become the nation's third-largest carrier last year, Sprint has been trying desperately to convince customers that hey, it's really cool too. But Sprint has found it hard to shake the image that it's little more than a decidedly unhip copycat with a less competent network. A lot of Sprint's PR struggles have been thanks to the fact that it hasn't been easy keeping up with T-Mobile's foul-mouthed, hipster-esque CEO, John Legere.

Sprint's latest effort was to involve a series of ads featuring Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure sitting down with hundreds of "normal folk" in 10 different cities to, apparently, make fun of T-Mobile. Unfortunately the company's very first ad in the series has ruffled more than a few feathers for being little more than thirty seconds of people laughing at the idea of T-Mobile as a "ghetto":
So yes, the idea of an ad in which a group of mostly white people sit around laughing at the idea of ghettos just isn't something most PR departments would sign off on. Sprint unsurprisingly had to pretty quickly pull the ad, and Claure headed to Twitter to insist that the company was just trying to have a conversation with regular folk:
And Sprint's adventures in bad PR could have ended there, were it not for a follow up exchange between one annoyed customer and Claure, in which the CEO lectured a Latino man on just how he should behave while being offended:
Right, except that as a CEO you made $21.8 million in fiscal year 2014, making your life experiences notably...different. You're also supposed to be conducting a customer listening tour, remember? So even if your intentions were good and you don't agree with your customers being offended, you were supposed to be listening to them. Not giving them a lecture on how or when they're allowed to be offended. All in all it's another example of how, even with funding from Japan's SoftBank propping up its sagging reputation, Sprint just can't seem to get out of its own way and find a path to consumers' hearts.

Maybe next time just try lower prices and a better network?
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Filed Under: advertising, ghetto, marcelo claure, pr
Companies: sprint, t-mobile

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