Sprint Marketing War against Verizon Revived with ‘Free Unlimited For a Year’ Promotion
What: Since the first launch in June 2017, Sprint reminds Verizon customers that they'll get a whole unlimited year for switching.
Why it matters: Telcos are among the largest marketing categories, particularly when it comes to reaching Hispanic consumers. Both Verizon and Sprint target Spanish-dominant Hispanics and bilingual Millennials.
“Keep your Verizon phone and save $900 in the first year,” Sprint’s website proclaims. “Stop feeling ripped off by Verizon.” This promotion, available to anyone who brings an eligible phone and switches to Sprint, has been available since last year. At the time, it was deemed "the most aggressive promotion in the history of the U.S. wireless industry".
Back in June 2017, the promotion had a positive effect on Sprint's quarterly results. Though a similar outcome can be expected from this revival, the promotion coincides with Sprint removing two of its pricing offers, which will result in a bigger monthly bill for some Sprint customers.
The offer is available for both individuals and families, and while it doesn't include international calls, it includes data and text messaging outside the U.S. Users only have to bring their phone and buy a new SIM card. If they sign up for the promotion, they'll begin paying monthly fees (starting at US$60) after the free year has been completed, on 1/31/19.
Interestingly, both Verizon and Sprint have targeted Hispanic consumers from up close. Exactly two years ago, Sprint's Hispanic marketing manager Kymber Umaña spoke to Portada about the firm's multicultural marketing strategy. "Sprint understands that for Hispanics, a mobile phone is their gateway to the content they desire but also a necessary means for staying connected to friends and family," she said. "A majority of our Sprint stores have bilingual staff and offer Spanish-language materials to meet the needs of the diverse Hispanic segment."
The marketing war against Verizon has to do at least to a certain extent with getting the Hispanic consumer's attention. Last year, only two months after the first launch of the unlimited year promotion, Verizon used the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards ceremony to show an ad targeting US Hispanics. The ad, titled 'Date Interrupted' and featuring Mexican actor Luis Gerardo Méndez, showed a Hispanic couple about to interrupt their dinner at a restaurant to go check on their baby at home. Since the Verizon representative on site doesn't speak Spanish, it is up to Méndez to introduce Verizon's unlimited data plans to the couple (and save their date). When we asked Verizon EVP and CMO Diego Scotti about the ad, he explained to Portada that it was "a nod to the bi-cultural Latino audience. We are telling them: We get you. We understand you." It seems this war will be difficult to win. On the one hand, bicultural users like to feel understood; on the other, what can beat a free year of communication with loved ones? If Verizon has the answer, we'll surely find out soon.
Update: A Sprint representative has contacted us to clarify that the promotion has been available since June 2017; the firm has neither relaunched it nor revived it, though it is a limited-time-only offer.