Former Verizon Pitchman Switches to Sprint in Latest from Deutsch

By Erik Oster Comment

Chances are you’ll recognize Paul Marcarelli as Verizon’s “Can you hear me now?” guy, but in Deutsch’s latest spot for Sprint, he’s switched networks.

“Hey, I’m Paul, and I used to ask if you could ‘hear me now’ with Verzion,” Marcarelli says at the opening of the spot. “Not anymore, I’m with Sprint now,” he continues. The spot keeps things simple, focusing on Marcarelli’s Sprint conversion, which he explains is because “it’s 2016 and every network is great.” So, since you can probably hear him now regardless of network and “Sprint’s reliability is now within one percent of Verizon” (a claim backed up by a recent Nielsen study) it’s not worth paying more for marginally better coverage. (The ad claims “Sprint saves you 50 percent on most Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile rates.”)

It’s a pretty convincing sales point, relying on a simple delivery from a competitor’s former spokesperson. Deutsch and Sprint are clearly relying on that latter point, and Marcarelli’s notoriety from spending a decade in the “Can you hear me now?” role for Verizon to attract viewer attention and hammer the message home. The 30-second broadcast spot made its debut last night during the NBA Finals and will continue to run on cable and broadcast, with support from digital, print and OOH initiatives.

As Adweek points out, Marcarelli’s relationship with Verizon was somewhat contentious for the actor, as outlined in a  2011 profile in The Atlantic. Verizon made him sign a contract greatly restricting his creative and financial responsibilities before eventually firing him via email. So perhaps it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that he would sign on with a competing wireless company. 

“I’ve watched with interest as each of the wireless carriers claims to be the most reliable or the fastest. But what I’ve found is … the ‘better’ that some other national carriers claim about reliability is really less than a 1 percent difference, ” Marcarelli said in a statement, echoing his sentiments from the ad itself. “Does anyone even really notice a difference of less than 1 percent? But when it comes to saving money … Sprint is by far the best choice for consumers. You get a highly reliable network and save 50 percent off most of the rates other national wireless carriers charge. Now that is noticeable.”

The new campaign follows Sprint’s appointment last December of Roger Solé as its new chief marketing officer. Sprint subsequently decided to move more of its production work to its in-house production unit Yellow Fan Studios, resulting in a round of layoffs at Deutsch’s Los Angeles offices. Deutsch’s launch of this new campaign, probably the brand’s most high-profile effort in some while, could possibly help the agency convince Sprint to not move too much creative work to Yellow Fan Studios going forward, especially in the wake of backlash to an in-house effort which some deemed offensive and the brand subsequently pulled

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