T-Mobile CMO Resigns

Butler Touted Customer Service, but Carrier Struggled to Keep Subscribers

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- T-Mobile USA's chief marketing officer, Mike Butler, has resigned.
Mike Butler
Mike Butler

A spokesman for the wireless carrier said Mr. Butler was in route to the T-Mobile sponsored NBA All Star Game in Las Vegas and could not be reached immediately for comment. The spokesman declined to discuss the reasons for Mr. Butler's departure. He said a successor has not been named.

Inherited Zeta-Jones
Mr. Butler inherited Catherine Zeta-Jones as a celebrity spokeswoman when he joined the company in January 2004. The carrier parted with Ms. Zeta-Jones in September 2006. Most recently, T-Mobile followed Alltel by launching the "My Faves" plan that allows a customer unlimited calling to five phones. Alltel's plan allows calling to 10 others.

T-Mobile spent $522 million in 2005 and $405 million in measured media for the first nine months of 2006, according to TNS Media Intelligence; its agency is Publicis in the West, Seattle.

Under Mr. Butler, the company has centered its marketing focus on consumer service. In an Advertising Age interview in November 2005, Mr. Butler said the average cost of acquiring a wireless-service customer is $300 and that T-Mobile would do all it could to keep the customers it had. T-Mobile, however, had one of the higher churn rates of the major carriers.

Can't offer TV
At the same time, the carrier is facing a changing telecommunications marketplace where both telecom companies and cable providers are offering consumers packages of land line, internet access, wireless and entertainment services. T-Mobile has none of those, nor does it currently have a network that would allow it to provide TV and other services available on the other carriers.

"I don't see them making a major impact on the marketplace," said Jeff Kagan, an independent telecommunications analyst. "The bundle is where most customers will go because the pricing will be attractive."
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