Sprint Named a PR Veteran to Run Its New In-House Agency

By Patrick Coffee 

This is one we have to aggregate as a public service to our readers.

Last month we reported that Deutsch had to make some downsizing moves in its L.A. office because Sprint had decided late last year to take more of the production work on its campaigns (read: pretty much all the production work on its campaigns) in-house.

A tiny bit of Google sleuthing revealed that this unit would be called Yellow Fan Studios and that its launch was in keeping with Sprint’s plans to “reduce its overall expenses by $2-2.5B” by instituting pay freezes, reducing severance packages and ending all free snacks.

The world’s first real glimpse of Yellow Fan Studios’ work came by way of the ad in which a (white) woman in a focus group speaking to CEO Marcelo Claure describes Sprint’s chief competitor T-Mobile as “ghetto.” The company quickly pulled the ad and pretty much every media outlet ran a story on it the following day.

Late yesterday AdAge ran a piece centered on Christopher Ian Bennett, who Sprint promoted last month to lead Yellow Fan Studios as its executive creative director. Many of you will find his background quite interesting.

In short, he’s a PR guy.

Prior to the promotion, Bennett was director of innovation and creative media for Sprint, which quite obviously hired him as a pretext to shrinking its relationship with Deutsch. His previous roles include executive PR/communications roles at Guitar Center, Best Buy Canada and trash removal company 1-800-GOT-JUNK.

What will Bennett be doing for Sprint, exactly? That’s a little vague, because the company’s PR declined to get into specifics and Bennett did not speak to AdAge himself for reasons that are completely unclear to us. Here’s a quote from corporate, though:

“[Bennett] is the new leader of Sprint’s creative vision for 2016. Whether in public relations or the political arena, the music business or digital media, his award-winning, 20-year career as a creative communicator is as eclectic as it is unique.

[Yellow Fan Studios] has full creative responsibility for the Overland Park, Kan.-based mobile carrier providing film and print production, design and all other creative services.”

Deutsch officially remains Sprint’s agency of record. And whatever sort of work Yellow Fan Studios produces, Claure is obviously hoping that the coming campaigns don’t lead to the same kind of negative headlines and hashtags as the “ghetto” ad.

Cliches aside, all publicity is most definitely not good publicity.