New T-mobile ad must be more single-minded

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

11 May 2012

Who is T-Mobile taking on here? The iPhone, which it will soon carry?

In a new T-Mobile ad, a model steps out of the pink dress and into black leather. The subtext of this T-mobile ad is that it’s not going to play nice anymore. Which going by the old saying “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” this is a huge switch from the oh-so-similar nature of previous T-mobile ads that had the same look as the classic Mac versus PC ads. Yes, considering that homage, I would say stepping up your game with a fresh concept is a good idea.


“Right now, the ad acts as a reminder to those who want an iPhone that they better not switch to T-Mobile.”

If only T-mobile weren’t going about it all wrong.

T-mobile ad

This recent T-mobile ad is set on a desert road. The voice over identifies a motorcycle rider driving on that road with an iPhone on the AT&T’s 4G network. Past him blows the T-mobile gal who the voiceover identifies as T-mobile 4G. They do a bit of rewind and replay in slow motion to work in some humor where T-mobile glances at the slow AT&T as she passes – then off she zooms.

The big problem with the T-Mobile ad is it introduces unnecessary variables. The ad is meant to show off T-mobile’s fast 4G. Comparing AT&T 4G and T-mobile 4G by itself might create value for T-mobile. But T-mobile pairs its value against two variables – AT&T’s 4G and the iPhone. T-Mobile is, in essence, making the assumption that the value of its fast 4G connection is more valuable than the brand of Apple and its iPhone – not a great tactic.

Speed is valuable in the mobile market, but it’s hard to figure out the differences between carriers. If T-mobile could be more single-minded in that effort, without confusing audiences by including the iPhone (which, recent reports say, will be coming to T-Mobile), it can take the lead on a future table stake (that will provide value until the other networks increase their speed to the equivalent). But it must be single minded in that focus and not bite off more than it can chew.

Right now, the ad acts as a reminder to those who want an iPhone that they better not switch to T-Mobile. That, for much of the population, the iPhone is more important than a possibly faster data connection.

See more posts in the following related categories: 4G Apple AT&T AT&T 4G Droid htc motorola T-Mobile t-mobile 4g T-mobile ad T-mobile commercial


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