I’m surprised no one has done this before.
Verizon’s “Can you hear me now” guy has switched to Sprint in a new series of ads that demonstrate how easy it is to switch. For years, actor Paul Marcarelli was the spokesperson for Verizon, a kind of geeky everyman with big glasses who told you of the benefits of being a Verizon customer.
Now, the actor appears in a similar getup, switching from Verizon to Sprint because it’s cheaper at Sprint with the same network reliability.
I applaud this strategy on one level because I believe most brands are too afraid to directly take on competitors, which is totally bizarre considering they are fighting over market share. In my 25 plus years in this business, I have pitched brand positions and advertising that directly and powerfully take on the competition. In a few cases, clients are reluctant because it’s just too…in your face.
So, instead, advertisers like that are more comfortable with bland messaging that usually just copies the market leader. Then they wonder why they haven’t stolen any market share.
Sprint is being bold, but not bold enough.
For the few that will directly take on the competition, they are taking the first bold step in stealing market share. You must present a true choice among the competitive field, something you can’t do if you are not positioned directly against competitors.
But there’s another factor. We live in an age in which we are all subject to thousands of messages a day. Just on the marketing side alone, a logo on the pen you use is a message. And that doesn’t even include all the things you read and see that are not advertising messages. The number of messages coming our way daily is mind-boggling.
As humans, however, we have learned to block out certain messages because they don’t apply to us. That means advertisers have to be bolder to be heard. Directly taking on the competition is one way of doing that.
The Sprint strategy with Marcarelli doesn’t go all the way, though. Its message still basically comes down to lower price. That’s not an overly emotional message.
Instead, Sprint should take on Verizon with Marcarelli that takes a more emotional bent than the usual messages everyone else uses. If it did, then Verizon would certainly hear Sprint now.