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Verizon, AT&T and Sprint – Scrappy Service Providers Karishma Sundaram | , 2:08 p.m. Nov. 25, 2009 2009-11-25

Last month, when Verizon launched into a battle royale with AT&T with their tongue-in-cheek advertisement campaign, we giggled like thrilled schoolgirls. Mainly because it is completely true, and secondly we love to hate the iPhone – after all, the ‘popular’ kids are always hated the most. 

To refresh memories, Verizon released an advertisement with two guys walking around a college campus. One was unhappily brandishing an iPhone, and the other was happily surfing on one of Verizon’s phones. Each of the guys had a map of the USA floating strategically above his heads, and the maps showed the country-wide availability of 3G on AT&T and Verizon, respectively. Punning the famous Apple by line, ‘There’s an app for that.’, the advert ended which their version – ‘There’s a map for that.’. 

Needless to say, AT&T was outraged. They should be of course, considering they were portrayed in a less than complimentary light. So in the true tradition of Corporate America, AT&T took Verizon to court over the advertisements. 

Fortunately for Verizon, the ruling was in their favour. The ads were judged to be ‘sneaky’ and the judge commented that there was a big chance that people would misunderstand the ads as they are usually ‘semi-catatonic’ when they watch television. So the ads stayed put on the air. However, Verizon has still another hurdle to cross in the ‘Map for that’ saga, as the hearing for whether or not the ads are misleading will be held on the 16th of December. Till then though, Verizon is making merry. 

Coming back to the present, Sprint is currently on the receiving end of Verizon’s competitor decimation antics. The company has just finalized the deal with Virgin Mobile US, taking over the company completely. The deal was under discussion for over a year, and the takeover catapults Sprint into the big league. But that is not bothering Verizon; it is Sprint’s new advertising campaign. 

Sprint has released a marketing campaign claiming to be ‘America’s most dependable 3G network’. Apparently, this did not go down well with Verizon, as there was an immediate bustle to get the ads taken off the air altogether. Quoting the results gathered by a Nielsen survey, Verizon claims to have fewer dropped calls than Sprint any day. While heads are nodding and Sprint were asked to take down the ads, Sprint refused point blank. The basis of their counter argument is that the ads cannot be shelved on the basis of one set of results. They are appealing to the National Advertising Review Board, while their ads continue to air. 

Verizon had our vote with the AT&T ads, since everyone enjoys a good scrap. However, in the case of Sprint, their actions smack of overconfidence and smugness. Maybe success with the first ruling has gone to their heads, perhaps they are behaving like the bullies of the playground – who knows? In the end, it does not really matter which telecommunications service provider wins the rounds, calls that connect and those that are not dropped is what matters in the end. 

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