Sprint whines, Verizon kills the trash talk

Sprint Nextel had some really bad news today - it lost another 1.3 million wireless customers last quarter as well as $326M -- but at least Verizon won't be picking on it in public, at least for now.   

An advertising industry self-regulatory group this week concluded that Verizon's snarky TV ads lampooning Sprint's push to talk (PTT) service made unsupported claims and should be discontinued. Sprint had taken its concerns to the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (NAD)

NAD recommended Verizon stop disseminating unsupported messages that Sprint's "old service is useless now," that Verizon's push-to-talk service was, by itself, superior to Sprint's push-to-talk service, that subscribers were leaving the Sprint service in droves rendering that service "useless", and that the Sprint's push-to-talk service was being decommissioned or was soon to be discontinued. NAD recommended that these claims be discontinued.

According to NAD, the challenged TV commercial features a construction worker wearing a yellow hard hat and holding a clunky, older-looking, yellow and black PTT phone. He attempts to use it, and the audience hears an empty "click, click" sound. A fellow construction worker (wearing a red Verizon Wireless hard hat), drives by, holds up a more modern-looking PTT phone, and states "We all upgraded to Verizon Wireless. Got push to talk and the reliability of the network. That old service is useless now."

The narrator closes the commercial with "Don't be the last one standing with another push to talk. Switch to the only one that comes with the network" as the camera pans across a large group of people - including the iconic "Can You Here Me Now? character - representing Verizon Wireless' voice and data network, NAD said.

NAD did go on to say Verizon could tout the message that PTT product/service is the only one that is accompanied by a separate wireless (regular call) service which comes with "the reliability of the network." However, NAD recommended Verizon better structure future advertising so that when promoting both its PTT service and its network, in future advertising, that it clearly and expressly clarify to which service "the reliability of the network" applies.

For its part, Verizon said that it relied on previous NAD decisions in crafting the advertisement at issue and "believed that the claims made in the advertising that was the subject of this challenge were adequately supported."

The company added that the TV and radio ad of a similar nature had been "discontinued by Verizon Wireless as part of the normal course of its business."

That is until they create a snarkier one.

Layer 8 in a box

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