Verizon Skips Super Bowl Buy, Opting to Slam Rivals’ Campaigns on Social Instead

Telecom mocks T-Mobile moves, tweets #SprintFails

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Verizon is the latest brand to prove that you don’t need to spend $5 million to get attention during the Super Bowl.

The telecommunications giant, which recently split with lead creative agency Wieden + Kennedy, came into the game ready to fight and responded to its rivals’ ads in order.

First, there was a hard dig against T-Mobile’s #UnlimitedMoves dance spot starring Justin Bieber.

The Verizon team also had a ready response for Sprint’s dad-in-trouble ad by Droga5.

Unsurprisingly, both Sprint and T-Mobile were on the defensive, with Sprint swiping Verizon’s original hashtag.

If Verizon had anticipated an aggressive messaging effort by its two biggest competitors, it was right. This explicitly anti-Verizon ad by Publicis Seattle aired during the fourth quarter.

Verizon was not amused, and this exchange between the corporate account and T-Mobile CEO John Legere felt a bit more … personal.

It wasn’t just a one-way fight, either.

Ouch. Will Verizon’s attack strategy ultimately prove more effective than T-Mobile’s massive Super Bowl ad buy? Only time will tell. But the brand definitely scored some high engagement numbers.

At least one big brand thought better. While the three runners-up fought amongst themselves, AT&T stayed silently above the fray.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.