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Sprint decides screwing up their brand isn’t enough

I used to keep a large red poster in my office that simply read “Good advertising goes to heaven. Bad advertising goes everywhere.”. I didn’t keep it there so clients would think I was a brooding creative but so my art directors and I would not get numbed by the volume of bad design and advertising we see everyday. It is easy for the best of us to let all of the junk mail, billboards, spam, commercials ad units join into a white noise of bad ideas and advertising. When that happens it takes a truly horrible ad to snap you out of the haze.

I snapped out of that haze tonight when I saw the latest TV commercial from Sprint. I wanted very badly to be able to include it in this posting but wasn’t able to find it anywhere so I will have to do my best to describe it to you.

The spot promotes the new project (red) RAZR and is narrated by Sprint’s spokesman Ron Livingston of Office Space fame. For those of you who don’t know, rock star Bono launched a new global brand, Product Red, with partners like Apple, AmEx, Converse, Armani and more with a share of profits from the sale of special items going to the fight against Aids in Africa. The first half of the spot has Ron holding the RAZR flanked by four photos of withered Afr can children explaining that the a portion of the RAZR price will help African children. This part of the spot is as uninspired and forgettable as the rest of their recent advertising but it is the second half that left me speechless. The four photos of the African children flip over to become four slick products shots of the RAZR. Lights start flashing and music starts playing. Ron looks directly into the camera and says “and if that isn’t enough you get a really cool red phone.”

I am sure that the delivery leaves a lot to be desired here but to boil it down, Sprint has decided that their customers are so shallow and self-centered there is a good chance they would rather care that the phone is red rather than helping children with AIDS.

Did I miss a memo? Did I have a stroke and no one told me? When the advertising industry decide that insulting their customers is a good idea? Maybe it is that I saw this ad so shortly after the kissing mechanics Superbowl Snickers ad that showed two auto mechanics accidentally kissing while eating the same candy bar and then ripping out some chest hair to do something “manly.”. How can Snickers watch that ad and not think that Joe small-brain male American would not be turned off by the sight of two men kissing? And then how did they think that gay Americans wouldn’t be pissed off at having that act be portrayed in such a negative light? They managed to piss off all of their customers – so who are they trying to sell to?

I love the advertising that been created for project(red) and all of the products produced by all of their other commercial partners. This commercial is an insult to product (red) and any consumer with a pulse.

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Creative Director, Designer, Brand Builder, Speaker, Podcaster, Crazy One. As a designer, I have 20+ years experience creating the strategy, concepts, and designs for award-winning integrated global advertising campaigns, building multiple global Fortune 500 brands and creating innovative digital experiences. As a leader, I have 15+ years transforming agency and client-side teams using a mix of creativity, business strategy, process and political skill to create innovative, world-class work and cultures that change industries and companies. My clients have included American Airlines, W Hotels, Disney, Citi, ExxonMobil, Acura, Old Navy, Nationwide Insurance, Verizon, Subaru and many others. My work has received over 150 international awards, my app designs have been named as one of the World’s 100 Greatest Apps, Apple has featured my work in 9 keynotes, 4 TV commercials and more.

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