Sprint quickly pulled a video ad in which a white woman describes rival T-Mobile as "ghetto."
The ad, which can still be seen in this post from The Verge, opens with CEO Marcelo Claure sitting with "Actual Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T customers," asking them about Sprint's competitors.
"I'm going to tell you a carrier name, and I want you to basically tell me what comes to your mind," Claure says. "T-Mobile – when I say T-Mobile to you, just a couple of words."
"Oh my God, the first word that came to my head was… ghetto," the woman replies. Claure immediately nods and says "Yes," and the woman continues.
"That sounds, like, terrible," she says. "I don't know…. There's always, like, three carriers; there's AT&T, Sprint and Verizon. And people who have T-Mobile are just, like…. Why do you have T-Mobile?"
The 35-second spot, which appears to have launched just yesterday, then displays Sprint's logo before fading to black. The event appears to be part of Claure's national "listening tour," a marketing effort earlier this year during which he discussed with consumers what they want from wireless carriers.
Claure backed the ads Tuesday in a series of tweets, saying "Sometimes the truth hurts" and adding it was "Not meant to offend anyone."
The backlash against the video was immediate. The Verge accurately predicted the carrier would "probably want to pull its latest T-Mobile attack ad once people see it and realize how truly tasteless it sounds." One Twitter user called it "classless," and another sarcastically tweeted that it was "Not vaguely racist at all."
Indeed, Claure took to Twitter Tuesday night to say Sprint was pulling the video.
"My job is to listen to consumers," Claure tweeted. "Our point was to share customer views. Bad judgment on our part. Apologies. Taking the video down."
The ad could be a costly debacle for a company trying to regain its footing as a force in the U.S. mobile market. Sprint posted a net loss of $836 million during the fourth quarter of 2015, down from $2.38 billion a year earlier, and it recently announced a plan to use its network gear as collateral to borrow $2.2 billion from "external investors," including its parent SoftBank.
- see this Verge story
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