Verizon and T-Mobile have been battling for wireless supremacy in the market lately. But during the Super Bowl on Sunday, the two carriers kicked the competition up a notch in a series of TV ads and tweets.
It was no surprise that T-Mobile, led by its outspoken CEO John Legere, cooked up a series of TV ads spoofing its larger competitor. T-Mobile’s campaign—inspired by the S&M-themed movie 50 Shades of Grey and its sequel 50 Shades Darker being released this month—starred comedian and actress Kristen Schaal pretending to get excited by the “pain” of various Verizon fees.
Legere tweeted the spots with his own added commentary. “I don’t know about you, but wireless pain is NOT my thing. Switch to @TMobile, people!! #TheSafeWordisUnlimited,” he tweeted.
That prompted a series of replies from Verizon’s corporate Twitter (twtr) feed as the company skipped running its own $5 million spots during the game.
Verizon also had its own goofy video spot, hitting back at some of the limitations imposed by T-Mobile on its “unlimited” plan. Under the tagline, “Unlimited moves T-Mobile doesn’t want you to see,” the spot featured dancers, a baby and a monkey falling down, among other clips. Verizon (vz) wireless president Ronan Dunne, who is occasionally active on Twitter, retweeted his company’s ad spot but otherwise stayed out of the fray.
Legere responded to the video with a “jealousy meter” tweet.
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T-Mobile’s (tmus) ad campaign got some positive attention after the game as the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Ad Week, among others, named it one of the five best commercials shown during the game.
Sprint (s) also tried to horn in on the Verizon-bashing action with an ad featuring a man faking his own death to get out of a contract and former Verizon pitchman Paul Marcarelli egging him on. “You could have just switched to Sprint,” the one-time “Can you hear me now” actor offered.
And that also drew a rebuke from Verizon on Twitter. “Trying to do anything on @sprint may push you over the edge. #SprintFails #SB51,” the company tweeted, including a video showing an exploding car driving off a cliff to symbolize Sprint’s poor network reliability.
Sprint fired back on Twitter: “@verizon if you weren’t so expensive, that mannequin would still be alive…and don’t think we didn’t see that video #VerizonFails.”
Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure retweeted several of the official corporate tweets, along with some pictures of the game, which he attended in Houston. As the night wore on, Claure also couldn’t help getting a few promos for Sprint, bragging about its ad.
In the end, the TV and Twitter feuds entertained more than they enlightened. And all three companies will be back to competing in the market, offering better deals to attract new subscribers now that the game is over.