Sprint Quickly Pulls Ad in Which White Woman Calls T-Mobile ‘Ghetto’

By Patrick Coffee 

UPDATE: Sprint’s creative agency of record Deutsch did not play any role in the production of this ad.


Some people just can’t quite get past using the word “ghetto” as a catch-all term meaning cheap or disreputable.

As you probably know, Campbell Ewald recently fired its CEO over a controversy sparked by the use of that word and several others in a clearly race-based context. And last night, Sprint landed in hot water on social media for an ad that came across to many as tone-deaf or worse for using the same word.

Here is the ad in question, preserved by an astute YouTuber.

Sprint’s CEO Marcelo Claure claimed that the spot was made as part of a “listening tour” in which he participated in focus groups seeking “honest answers from real people” as opposed to–we presume–dishonest answers from paid actors.

If the words weren’t his, then of course he hadn’t meant to offend anyone…right? Viewers were not buying the conceit, and Claure sort-of defended the ad by attributing the quote and its sentiment to the woman in question.

While no one at the company or its partner agencies can be held responsible for this woman’s choice to describe its competitor’s products in such a way (as per Claure’s tweet above), we do wonder why they chose to focus on her comments; someone obviously and mistakenly thought the word “ghetto” would go over well.

The company’s customer service team responded in an odd sort of way.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile CEO John Legere pretty much summed it all up: