Sprint's Any Mobile Anytime plan is a winner - now let's step up the marketing

Yesterday Sprint Nextel announced a smart new calling plan aimed at stemming the carrier's customer losses. The plan, called Any Mobile, Anytime, offers unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling to any wireless number on any U.S. wireless carrier at any time, and will be added to Sprint's Everything Data plans, which start at $69.99 per month.

For consumers, this is a great deal and it definitely outshines competitive plans such as T-Mobile's MyFaves or Verizon's Friends and Family, which give customers unlimited calling to a handful of pre-determined numbers (both wireless and wireline). This offer also makes it easy for people to switch to Sprint, particularly if they have been reluctant to in the past because their family and friends use another carrier's service and they enjoy the free mobile-to-mobile calling. According to Roger Entner, senior vice president for research and insights in Nielsen's Telecom Practice, the No. 1 reason people decide to stay with a certain operator is because they get locked into family plans. In fact, that is more important than price, Entner says.

The Any Mobile, Anytime, plan makes sense, and consumers should consider switching to Sprint to take advantage of it. But can Sprint communicate that message to consumers? To introduce the plan, the company has brought back CEO Dan Hesse as its pitchman. The ad ran last night for the first time.

The message is straightforward and clear, but I don't think it's enough--particularly when competitors have such recognizable pitchers as Verizon Wireless' Test Man ("Can you hear me now?") or T-Mobile USA's Catherine Zeta-Jones. Perhaps Sprint needs to bring back its former pitchman--remember the Trenchcoat Guy? He was Sprint's pitchman for six years before Sprint merged with Nextel in 2005. Consumers loved the way Trenchcoat Guy solved pesky wireless problems. Perhaps Sprint can entice Trenchcoat Guy to come back. Consumers trusted him once, and maybe they will listen to him again. --Sue