Sprint Drops 'Now Network' Tagline for Beatles' Ditty

New Creative Focuses on Theme of 'All Together Now' to Highlight Wireless Carrier's Pricing Plan

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After two years and truckloads of ad awards, Sprint is retiring "Now Network" as its tagline for a new Beatles-inspired theme: "All. Together. Now."

The first spot in the campaign, "Anthem," launches tonight in prime time and illustrates the idea of "All Together Now" (a track off the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine") through a mash-up of social media, text, email and video-chatting. Sprint is also the latest carrier to use mobile-gaming phenomenon "Angry Birds," along with other social-media smartphone apps, to tell its story.

While Sprint definitely made progress in 2010, it's still losing subscribers faster than market leaders Verizon and AT&T. In February, Sprint had nearly 12% of U.S. mobile subscribers over age 13 vs. Verizon's 31% and AT&T's 26%, according to ComScore. The carrier is still recovering from its troubled merger with Nextel in 2005.

Sprint, which could become a very distant third if government regulators approve a proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile, characterizes the new campaign as an evolution of the "Now Network" campaign, a darling at the Cannes Advertising Festival following its launch. The effort is also meant to highlight Sprint's unlimited, flat-fee plans for text messaging, mobile web and calls, while other carriers continue to moved toward tiered pricing models, where heavy users pay more.

But Sprint isn't doing away with Now Network. "We will still refer to our network as the Now Network, but moving forward you'll see 'All. Together. Now.' referenced in Sprint advertising," a spokesman said.

There have been no major leadership or agency changes since Sprint launched Now Network in 2009: Ad Age Power Player Bill Morgan is still leading marketing, with VPs-corporate marketing Mike Goff on creative and Steve Gaffney on media. Goodby, Silverstein & Partners continues as the creative agency and Mindshare still handles media.

"The idea is to make social behavior contagious to a national audience and let everyone know that Sprint is the only national wireless carrier offering unlimited pricing plans without data overages or throttling, which means they can use their smartphone or tablet as much as they like while on the Sprint network for something fun like wishing a stranger happy birthday," said Mr. Morgan, senior VP-corporate marketing.

In 2010, Sprint U.S. ad spending fell 15% to less than $1.1 billion, according to Kantar Media. That puts Sprint leagues behind the top two U.S carriers and biggest wireless ad spenders. Verizon ad coffer saw similar declines but still tops $1.8 billion, while AT&T boosted spending 11% to $2.1 billion.

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