T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) and Sprint (NYSE: S) not only had dueling TV advertisements run during Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday, but the carriers' CEOs got into a spat on Twitter over the ads. While the rivalry between the erstwhile merger partners has been growing during the past few months, it flared Sunday in a back-and-forth between T-Mobile CEO John Legere and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure.
T-Mobile's main ad, which it had previewed before the game, featured Kim Kardashian West as a spokeswoman for T-Mobile's "Data Stash" program. In a faux-public service announcement, she talks about how wireless carriers take back data that could be used to look at photos of her, and asks customers to "please, help save the data."
Meanwhile, Sprint's main TV spot featured a screaming goat that it had used in a previous ad to mock rivals Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T). Sprint currently has a promotion under which it will cut customers' service bill in half if they switch from Verizon or AT&T and buy a new Sprint phone.
In the ad, Sprint apologizes for calling Verizon and AT&T a goat, and says that they are not goats, "just really expensive." The ad then touts the cut-your-bill-in-half promotion. The ad says this might make Verizon and AT&T look like a screaming donkey, which the ad then cuts to, the implication being that the carriers would look like an "ass."
On Twitter, Legere blasted Sprint's ad and data speeds as "half-assed." That prompted a response from Claure: "Never sacrifice your class to get even with someone who has none. Take the high road."
Legere responded: "Oh look! You learned how to use the 'respond' button. I thought you only knew how to use the retweet button."
Claure also re-tweeted several tweets that were disparaging of T-Mobile's ad and Kardashian West. Legere retorted: "Yes--maybe you should keep this in mind when you RT people talking about @KimKardashian."
Legere has vowed that T-Mobile will surpass Sprint this year in terms of total subscribers to claim the mantle of the No. 3 U.S. wireless carrier.
T-Mobile also deployed another ad, this one highlighting its Wi-Fi calling feature. The ad featured comedians and actresses Sarah Silverman and Chelsea Handler, with each one trying to one-up the other by talking to each other on the phone about bizarre indoor locations where they have cell service, including Handler's "subterranean petting zoo" and Silverman's "underground delivery room."
Another wireless ad that got a great deal of attention was from battery phone case firm Mophie. The ad featured scenes of an apocalypse on Earth and ended with an image of God's phone running out of battery life, and the figure of God saying, "gosh darn it." The ad concluded, "When your phone dies, God knows what can happen."
In other Super Bowl news, Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) said its customers racked up more than 25 million wireless connections, or nearly 25,000 per minute, at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., the site of the Super Bowl XLIX stadium. The data Verizon customers sent immediately before, during and after the game added up to 4.1 terabytes of data, compared to 1.9 terabytes during the 2014 Super Bowl, Verizon said.
- see this Re/code article
- see this Mashable article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this CNN Money article
- see this GeekWire article
- see this Verizon post
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