Sprint teams Bo Jackson with mermaid, flying horse in Super Bowl return

The two-sport legend is part of a campaign about not having to compromise on value or service

By Published on .

Sprint is teaming its gang of robots with former NFL and MLB all-star Bo Jackson for its fourth straight Super Bowl appearance.

The 30-second spot, produced by creative agency Droga5 (in its third straight Super Bowl with Sprint) once again takes aim at Verizon and AT&T for the companies' high prices.

The robots—Evelyn, Atlas and Sassbot—brainstorm with Sprint pitchman and former Verizon spokesman Paul Marcarelli on how they can tell people that having "both"—in this case value and great service—is better. The company claims a family plan of four can save AT&T and Verizon customers $1,000 a year if they switch to Sprint.

The solution is to introduce people, animals and things that serve dual purposes, but don't compromise. "How about we get two-sport legend Bo Jackson, holding a mermaid, playing a keytar ... and a bird horse," one of the robots quips.

Roger Solé, CMO at Sprint, says making the spot surreal was intentional.

"We needed to make people understand that they don't have to choose between having a great network and getting a great deal," Solé says. "Bo Jackson didn't have to commit to one thing; he was a professional player of football and baseball in the same season and we loved that as a concept."

Verizon confirmed that it's returning to the Super Bowl, and is continuing its theme of paying tribute to first-responders in a commercial that has a serious tone. T-Mobile also took a more serious approach in its Super Bowl spot last year; it has yet to release its ad for this year's game, though it's confirmed it will be there.

When asked if Sprint had considered ditching the mudslinging that's become all too common in the wireless industry, Solé said: "Verizon does not have things they can talk about. They cannot talk about price because they are expensive. They have a network that people know is obviously very good, so they have the luxury to do something radically different and engage with social good."

But paying for service with Verizon or AT&T is very expensive, Solé argues, adding that it's critical for Sprint to pass that message along. "We want to shake people and say, 'hey, why don't you switch to Sprint?"

Sprint was acquired last year for $26 billion by T-Mobile, though it has yet to gain regulatory approval and Sprint's Super Bowl ad does not call out T-Mobile. Solé says Sprint returned to the Super Bowl despite the looming acquisition because, "We don't know if the deal will get approved or not so we can't change our strategy, and we need to act as if it's not happening. We hope the merger gets approved and if it does, we'll change our strategy."

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