T-Mobile's last holiday ad starring an animated John Legere shooting lasers from a sleigh was reported to the National Advertising Division by AT&T for belittling its business in an "unsubstantiated, false, and misleading" manner. The Bellevue, Washington-based wireless carrier dismissed the claim as frivolous, claiming the promo doesn't make any direct claims about current business practices employed by AT&T or any other carrier, adding that the NAD hence doesn't have any jurisdiction to review it. The agency's investigation into the matter didn't side with T-Mobile and as the third largest mobile service provider in the country refused to participate in the self-regulating process proposed by the unit of the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council, the NDA referred the case to the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commision, according to its Friday filing.
The NDA said the fact T-Mobile's ad explicitly mentions AT&T and compares the company's service to that of its rivals is reason enough for the video to be investigated by it. The two federal regulators with the power to enforce any decisions on the matter are expected to begin reviewing the matter by spring. T-Mobile Chief Executive Officer John Legere on Friday took to Twitter to mock AT&T for complaining about the ad, saying that's "totally something a major miser would do." "Misers" and "abominable carriers" have been explicitly criticized by the holiday ad which can be seen below.
The ad produced in the style of stop-motion animated movies from the '70s has been originally launched a week before Christmas, though it's presently unclear how many people it reached in total. The version of the video published on T-Mobile's official YouTube channel has 18,000 views to date. The NAD said it's "disappointed" T-Mobile refused to participate in the self-regulating process but noted that its decision to refer the case to the FCC and FTC isn't meant to in any way imply AT&T is in the right as the matter requires further investigation. Mocking its rivals comprises an important part of T-Mobile's marketing strategy under Mr. Legere who largely reinvented the company after taking over it in 2012. The self-proclaimed "un-carrier" continues to grow at a rapid pace, as evidenced by its consolidated financial report for the final quarter of 2017. T-Mobile recently challenged AT&T to follow its goal of becoming 100-percent reliant on renewable energy by mid-2021.
— John Legere (@JohnLegere) February 16, 2018