Sprint Ahead: Will Sprint's New Campaign Work?

Posted by: Olga Kharif on June 27, 2007

For the past year, Sprint Nextel has seen some of its highest-value customers leave — in part, analysts believe, because the company’s advertising campaign didn’t work. Its tagline, Power Up, left consumers confused. No one could be quite sure about what the tagline meant.

That’s why, earlier this year, Sprint had hired a new ad agency and began working on a new branding campaign, announced on June 27. Sprint’s new slogan: Sprint Ahead. Created by San Francisco-based Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, an accompanying ad campaign uses light to denote creativity and speed. In one 30-second TV commercial, artists use their flashlights to draw flowers bending in the wind, fish jumping out of water and smoke rising out of a houses’s chimney. With frames sped up, the waving of the flashlight turns into very cool light animation. The ad looks different and quirky.

Bill Morgan, Sprint’s senior vice president for brand and advertising, says his company wanted to do something different after watching rivals emphasize wireless networks’ shortcomings in their ads. Cingular, for instance, points out that its subscribers experience fewer dropped calls. Sprint, Morgan says, wanted to emphasize the wonders of wireless technology instead of its shortcomings. This is a return to Sprint circa 2005, when its tagline, “Yes, you can,” emphasized the service’s versatility.

I think this approach might work. The ads look different and interesting. The company’s tagline, Sprint Ahead, is easily understood. It’s much better than Power Up, for sure.

Reader Comments

Vinny Tafuro

July 2, 2007 11:22 AM

The real issue is that the merger and subsequent marketing efforts simply left the core Nextel business customers shut out from what they truly valued.

Those customers do not want or need "magic screens" to do their jobs. They want reliable service (esp. 2-way radio) with packages that fit their business need. Nextel was the only provider that did that and that has now been eradicated.

Buzz

July 4, 2007 9:36 PM

Sprint Ahead is a rehased tagline from 10 years ago.

WHo really cares how fast the network is if it keeps kicking me off.This is just a flashy campaign designed for Wall St.

Power Up at least said Strong signal.

Pretty lights in the dark just hide the fact Sprint has ugly dated phones. SO maybe it will work afterall

Rich, UT

July 8, 2007 12:51 AM

I agree with Buzz's comment. I have frequent dropped calls with Sprint, and I think their phones are considerably ugly and outdated compared to the competition. But those new commercials are catchy, especially to 20-something college students. Just may be enough to sneak some new life (unsuspecting customers) into new contracts. Only after their names are on the service agreements will they realize their mistakes and that they have been fooled by clever marketing.

Nick

July 10, 2007 5:51 PM

Sprint tried to get me to sign up for their data plans. But one look at their constantly downed website and broken links makes one wander if Sprint really get the meaning of the Internet. Why would I use data services from a company that can't even keep their website running correctly?

Nima

October 4, 2007 10:11 AM

I disagree "Ahead" is better than "Power Up". The latter slogan appeals to the growing set of Generation-Y young professionals who appreciate 'old school' video game references (which, by many accounts, is what that slogan alluded to). "Ahead" reminds me of "Army Strong" ...in that it almost has a neanderthalic feel to it. Thoughts?

Allan Ramesh

October 5, 2007 2:45 PM

Sprint has a long way to go to win customers to its mobile phone service. Its billing is a complete mess and overcharges are common and customers support is dismal. After waiting 30 minutes on hold to speak to a representative, its discouraging to be told that the representative has no authority to make any decisions. Sprint's mobile phone service needs a complete overhaul.

Joshua Test

October 24, 2007 8:20 PM

Wow..... I think its a great move. Sprints phones work fine, as others do. Dropped calls are usually directly related to where you are, and where the tower is. And billing. I've seen my fair share of billing mistakes with every company. Sprint will usually credit away like they all do... Flat out, when you think Verizon, you think "reliable", when you think Cingular/ATT, you think "more bars" So...... the way i see it, Sprint spent several year spending money to advertise, and at the end, people where still confused on what the advertising mean... This is a good move... Moving Ahead is ALWAYS good... Let face facts... The Sprint EVDO and Verizon EVDO networks are EXACTLY alike. There voice networks are the same too... Verizon just paid the right marketing company...

Van

January 20, 2008 10:09 AM

1/2008 net losses of 683,000 subscribers
Looks like this campaign didn't work so well.

Dee

November 7, 2008 11:04 AM

11/2008 loss of another 1.3 million subscribers. Looks like the campaign was a disaster!

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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