Sprint launched two new ad campaigns this past week, and brought its old ads – featuring CEO Dan Hesse – to an end.

Thank goodness. Those look-how-thoughtful-I-am-in-black-and-white ads – with the single camera shots bobbing in front of Hesse as he walked along – were making me seasick.

Wireless Week thinks Sprint pulled Hesse because the company was worried folks might react badly to the CEO making $14.2 million in 2008.  Perhaps it is a bit of a curiosity, given that Sprint continues to receive dismal customer service ratings and its revenues are falling… but I digress.

So – the new work. The new work is beautiful to watch. The production values are excellent. The problem is that it doesn’t sell Sprint all that well.

The first ad in the “The Now Network” campaign, “What’s Happening Now,” successfully illustrates how much data traffic is running right now. Right this second! This minute! So much is happening! A voice-over drills through statistics, read over crisp animations: “1 million e-mails are en route. 7% of them contain the words ‘miracle banana diet.” “2 million people are sending a text message during a business meeting. Most popular subject? Diapers.” 6 million people are researching restaurants in taxis and 29 of them just left their phone in that same cab.”

A lot of digerati are getting a particular kick out of the references to Twitter: “233,000 people just Twittered on Twitter. 26% of you viewing this have no idea what that means.” Tee-hee (or is that Twee-hee?)!

The ad rolls along at a crazy pace, and you’re working your brain just to keep up with all the fun facts. Whooo, I am truly amazed!

So amazed, in fact, that the brand behind the ad is almost beside the point. Even when the commercial gets down to business at the end, it waits far too long to show the Sprint name and logo. And 3G or 4G, Tier 1 huh? It’s all almost an afterthought.  Take a look for yourself HERE:

This beautiful ad will generate buzz on the Web because of all the fun cocktail party (ad:tech?) stats. That will help, but I wish Sprint’s agency, Goodby Silverstein, would adjust the ad itself to make sure that the brand message gets through. The second ad in the campaign, “Anthem,” displays the same beauty and cleverness… and suffers from the same ailment, as does the enticing website that accompanies the campaign.

The second effort, “Why Throw Your Money Away?” addresses the brand benefits in a creative manner that feels fresh, but the value message is well-worn. One of the spots, “Leafblower,” shows a father blowing lots of money away with a leaf blower while his family tries to grab it all back; viewers are informed that they can save $360 a year over comparable AT&T and Verizon plans.

At least the brand is front and center.

A few minor adjustments could potentially move both the television ads and the website(s) a whole lot closer to what every client (and consumer) hopes for:  work that makes an impression on its own creative merits while it forges a meaningful connection to the brand.


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