Twitter recently just turned 10, which is perhaps the age that companies and brands end up acting like on the network, at least if we pay attention to the big US carriers, that is. T-Mobile’s John Legere has used Twitter for a few years now to throw shade at “dumb and dumber”, his way of referring to AT&T and Verizon. While Verizon and AT&T seem a little more conservative online, 2016 has already become a year of constant tit-for-tat in terms of commercials, network reliability claims and more. The latest Verizon ad, which enlisted the help of The Office creator, Ricky Gervais, has – unsurprisingly – upset Sprint’s CEO, Marcelo Claure.
The 30-second spot, embedded below, sees Rick Gervais poking fun at Sprint’s recent claim that the yellow network is “more reliable, faster” and has “better coverage than ever”. The ad focuses around the fine print, which Gervais gleefully pointed out says “map is not a depiction of coverage” which should surely negate an entire map of the United States painted yellow. Claure hit out on Twitter, at both Verizon and Gervais, with an annotated version of the still. Claure is happy that Verizon “finally agree” with Sprint, but also nodded to Gervais by saying “Verizon does it too, Ricky, just obeying the law!” It does seem pretty silly for Verizon to go after small print like this, especially considering that the majority of Verizon’s ads also feature the same sort of fine print. Not to mention the reams and reams of paper that is attached to a device contract from any of the big four carriers in the US.
Nevertheless, Ricky simply responded with “don’t shoot the messenger” which is pretty much what this comes down to, another fairly straightforward ad that an actor was paid – probably a mountain of money – to do, regardless of whether or not they agree with the statement. Ads like this have steadily been getting more and more out of hand throughout the early part of the year, which started off with everyone using colored balls to simulate whether or not their network was better than another’s. At the end of the day, all of this is very entertaining, but the American Consumer is presumably better-educated than these networks and marketing firms ultimately realize, so the impact here is probably minimal, at best.