Internally, the spot [below] is called "No More Mr. Nice
"Clearly 2012 is a rebuilding year for T-Mobile," said Peter
DeLuca, senior-VP brand, advertising and communications. "We need
to get the brand back out there and get consumers to take another
The fourth quarter was particularly tough for the company, owned
by Deutsche Telekom. As
its three major competitors, Verizon, AT&T
and Sprint, offered the brand-new Apple iPhone, T-Mobile (which still
doesn't carry the iPhone) lost 802,000 contract customers. The No.
4 carrier by subscribers is also looking to set a new course after
AT&T's $39 billion takeover bid was foiled by regulators late
In February, during T-Mobile's first earnings call since the
thwarted deal, President-CEO Philipp Humm said that T-Mobile
intended to spend an additional $200 million in advertising.
"The pending AT&T deal negatively impacted customer
satisfaction and brand perception in 2011, which is why we believe
it is time to reinvigorate the challenger strategy and to relaunch
the brand," Mr. Humm said.
T-Mobile spent $517 million in U.S. measured media last year,
according to Kantar Media. Even with the extra ad funding,
T-Mobile will probably be outspent in the high-stakes wireless
market. AT&T, for example, spent $1.3 billion on its consumer
wireless service last year, according to Kantar.
Despite its smaller budget, T-Mobile ads have seemed to cut
through the clutter, thanks largely to Carly, the only current
spokescharacter for a mobile carrier who's easily recognizable.
Ads featuring biker Carly, from longtime T-Mobile agency
Publicis, Seattle, are intended to equate the brand with speed. The
single-biggest thing consumers are looking for in their next
smartphone is faster 4G connections, Mr. DeLuca said.
"Before she was this approachable character; now we need to show
the other side: She wants speed," he said. "I have to communicate
as a challenger that we have 4G."
But that need for speed will also bump up against others' claims
about their connections. All four major U.S. carriers tout 4G
networks, even though they use different technologies and are in
varying phases of updating. That casts "4G" as a marketing catchall
meant to convey "faster" rather than any one standard.
"What consumers understand about 4G is it means 'faster' and 'I
get to do more on my network,' " Mr. DeLuca said.
T-Mobile has been claiming for some time that it's the U.S.'s
"largest" 4G network, even though it has just begun investing
another $1.4 billion to build its Long-Term Evolution Network --
the technology that Verizon, for instance, uses for its 4G
Carly's new look will be rolled out in a national media buy
concentrated in the next two weeks via Publicis Groupe 's
Optimedia. T-Mobile's 2,000 retailers will also feature the new