T-Mobile US' (NYSE:TMUS) new plan to essentially eliminate international data roaming fees in more than 100 countries doesn't go live until Oct. 31, but the carrier's marketing campaign for the offer is getting into full swing.
Specifically, the carrier is ramping up multiple, episodic TV advertisements for the new international plans featuring families who are trying to get in touch with travelers. The spots have already been shown during the Major League Baseball playoffs. The carrier is also teaming with radio DJs across the country to promote the plans on the radio.
Additionally, T-Mobile is rolling out massive advertisements for the campaign in several major U.S. airports, including in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver and Los Angeles. The carrier plans to focus heavily on business travelers at JFK and LaGuardia airports in New York City.
In addition to direct mail, T-Mobile will also focus its marketing efforts aimed at the eneterprise and B2B market in print advertising with business-focused outlets such as Entrepreneur Magazine, Barron's and the Wall Street Journal.
Finally, T-Mobile is running a contest centered on its new websites: "Catch Jeremy," and a Spanish-language counterpart, "Encuentra a Miguel." The sites, which are connected to the TV ads, feature characters Jeremy and Miguel, 20-something travelers who are bounding across Europe racking up data charges while their families try to get in touch with them to tell them to stop. Customers who correctly guess the location of travelers (who are actors, not real customers) will be entered into a sweepstakes for a trip around the world for two to any five of the 100+ "Simple Global" countries covered by T-Mobile.
Peter DeLuca, T-Mobile's senior vice president of brand and advertising, spoke to FierceWireless about the promotions. He said the integrated campaign is a way to highlight the benefits of removing roaming charges.
"I think there's one thing that the campaign does extremely well," he said. "It demonstrates in a highly creative way the customer pain point."
Starting Oct. 31, T-Mobile said its Simple Choice individual and business customers will automatically get unlimited data and texting in more than 100 "Simple Global" countries worldwide, and will only pay 20 cents per minute for voice calls when roaming in the same countries. However, the data rates will be capped at EDGE speeds of around 128 Kbps, though the company will offer various levels of speed boosts to customers who want faster speeds. The company is pricing those speed bumps at $15 for 100 MB per day; $25 for 200 MB per week or $50 for 500 MB for two weeks.
Some analysts have said the offering's speed limitations could inhibit adoption among customers who need faster service. "We believe the headlines can grab attention and build awareness that are likely objectives of the promotion, while the data roaming limitations to 2G networks may limit the appeal of T-Mobile's offer," Citi analysts Michael Rollins and Simon Weedon wrote in a research note last week.
Maribel Lopez, an analyst at Lopez Research, said the plan is "big deal" for businesses looking to save money, but that it had limitations. "You can't have it both ways," he recently told CNET. "There's no fast, dependable service that's affordable."
DeLuca pointed to the speed boosts customers can purchase and said the carrier's marketing efforts for the "Simple Global" plan is a broad-based one focused not just on enterprise customers but all international travelers who have been bitten by high international roaming costs in the past.
- see this Catch Jeremy site
- see this Encuentra a Miguel site
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Correction, Oct. 18, 2013: This article incorrectly stated the nature of the sweepstakes T-Mobile is holding as part of its marketing efforts. The sweepstakes is for a trip around the world for two to any five of the 100+ "Simple Global" countries covered by T-Mobile.