A typographical ad courtesy of J. Walter Thompson fights in the telecom wars.
It isn't the only all-text ad to run in a Super Bowl; crushing pressure to stand out means that sometimes creatives have to discard the usual visual spectacles or animal humor. Other examples of the tactic include LifeMinders.com's "Worst Commercial" in 2000 and T-Mobile's "Kill Your Contract" in 2014. Coca-Cola also reverted to the approach in 1991, but only when the Gulf War scuttled its original plans ("Crack the Code").
JWT's other early-90's ads for Sprint, however, did not stick to text. They included a bevy of commercials starring Candice Bergen, star of the hit CBS sitcom "Murphy Brown," who in one spot argued that consumer savings by using Sprint were enough to become "one of those rich companies that everybody resents," a reference to AT&T.
"Why Go Back" is aimed at the same rival. In case Super Bowl viewers weren't clear, it comes out and says so: "AT&T? Thanks but no thanks."
Sprint's other trips to the big game included 1990 ("A New World"), 2006 ("Locker Room," "Couch"), 2007 ("Connectile Dysfunction"), 2009 ("Roadies") and 2015, when, incidentally, its execution again effectively used a lot of on-screen type ("Apology").
AGENCY: J. Walter Thompson
QUARTER AIRED: Q2