If you watched TV at all in the 2000s, you've likely seen Verizon's ubiquitous pitchman -- the one who endlessly asked, "Can you hear me now?"
And if you watched the second game of the NBA Finals on Sunday, you saw him shilling for rival Sprint. While he quit doing TV ads for Verizon around 2011, he's now appearing in Sprint's latest campaign. The actor, Paul Marcarelli, is appearing as himself in the new spot, called "Paul Switched."
In the ad he introduces himself, and notes that he's now a Sprint customer because Sprint's "reliability is now within 1% of Verizon. And Sprint saves you 50% on most Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile rates." The ad was created by Interpublic's Deutsch.
Mr. Marcarelli was Verizon's spokesman for nearly a decade, but the company kept his identity a mystery in much of the advertising.
While the telcos constantly try to one-up competitors' claims and undercut each other's rates, Verizon is known for being among the more expensive carriers.
The new ad comes as Sprint continues to make an effort to cut about $2.5 billion in costs. On the ad side of its business, it recently opened an in-house agency, YellowFan Studios, that "has full creative responsibility for the Overland Park, Kan.-based mobile carrier providing film and print production, design and all other creative services," the company said in a statement last month about the move. Deutsch remains the company's general market agency.
"We've made tremendous advancements in our network during the past year and Sprint's network reliability is now within 1% difference of Verizon," said Marcelo Claure, Sprint president and CEO, in a statement about the latest ad. "Within 1%. We don't expect our customers would even notice such an insignificant difference. And Sprint will save customers who switch 50% on most national carrier rate plans. So Verizon customers can switch to Sprint, experience network reliability on par with Verizon and save money on their wireless service each month. Using Paul in our advertising demonstrates loud and clear that it's a new day in wireless."