Sprint today (Thursday) unveiled an ad campaign for the HTC EVO, a mobile phone that uses 4G high-speed wireless technology. The effort kicks off with an ad dubbed “Firsts,” which makes the claim that Sprint is the first national cellular carrier to offer a 4G phone.
In 30- and 60-second TV spots, a voiceover takes viewers through a time line of “firsts,” like the first train, the first airplane, and the first space shuttle, among other inventions. The technologies advance until the HTC EVO is revealed. The voiceover concludes: “First isn’t later, it’s now. What will you do first with EVO, the first 4G phone?” Omnicom’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, handles. Mothership produced the spots.
Sprint has been aggressively marketing its services and devices as of late. For instance, the carrier in March introduced another new ad, also from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. It featured CEO Dan Hesse explaining that Sprint’s $69.99 monthly plan includes data features like Web browsing and texting, while AT&T’s and Verizon’s $69.99 plans do not. (Last year, Sprint spent $789 million on advertising, up from $746 million in 2008, excluding online, per the Nielsen Co.)
The new ads also highlight the phone’s many capabilities. EVO, which goes on sale nationwide on June 4, is a dual-mode 3G/4G phone—meaning it can switch between the current high-speed wireless technology, called 3G, and the more advanced 4G technology.
Ad support includes TV, print, online and direct mail. Out-of-home ads—billboards, street furniture, bus shelters, transit and mall kiosks—build on Sprint’s ongoing “Now Network” campaign. Copy in those ads will use phrases like “First Isn’t Later. It’s Now” and “EVO, the First 4G Phone.”
Additionally, Sprint has created a microsite, www.sprint.com/firsts, where consumers can share how they’re using 4G in their daily lives, per the company. The posts must come from EVO 4G users, who, in return, will receive virtual badges (for use on social networks) validating their submission of 4G “firsts.”
Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group Research, said Sprint has a challenge ahead to change consumer perception about the brand. “EVO is the world’s first 4G phone, so there’s a lot of potential there for Sprint. However, [the carrier] has struggled over the years and has lost subscribers, which has put it in a bad position,” Kerravala said. “Sprint has a better network than people realize, but it will take some convincing.”