By Barry Janoff
January 30, 2015: In what might be the most proactive anti-establishment campaign in Super Bowl history, T-Mobile hit NFL Big Game territory this week with the mantra of being "America's Un-Carrier," and CMO Mike Sievert writing on his blog, "We don’t have the bottomless pockets of an AT&T or Verizon. Taken together, the Duopoly of AT&T and Verizon spends nearly 3x more on advertising than T-Mobile – billions more over the last few years."
The telecom company sought to use that underdog mentality to its advantage, however, with a roster of Super Bowl XLIX-related activations that includes Kim Kardashian, Chelsea Handler, Sarah Silverman, Rob Riggle and Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman.
Riggle will appear in what T-Mobile called the "first-ever ad produced exclusively to live-stream during the game," with the commercial, "Data Vulture," set to run on NBC Sports Live Extra’s app for tablets and Web site for desktops, where the network will air the Super Bowl in conjunction with its broadcast production. The spot likely will go into on-air rotation once it breaks via the app and on the Web.
According to NBC, nearly 20 of the companies that bought time during the on-air broadcast will also run the same ads during the live stream. T-Mobile is the only company to lay claim to a spot created specifically for the live-stream coverage.
"When NBC announced it planned to open up their live-stream of the Big Game to everyone — with no authentication required — we saw an opportunity to do something unprecedented and create yet another Un-carrier first," Sievert wrote on his blog. "Something just for America’s tech-savvy Millennials and cord cutters"
Why target those demographics? "Because this happens to be a group of people very near and dear to our hearts here at T-Mobile," wrote Sievert. "These people live online and eat buckets of data for lunch — and they’re the reason we designed our network 'data strong.'"
T-Mobile will also be part of the traditional game-day broadcast with two 30-second spots, one featuring Kardashian, "Kim's Data Stash," and the other featuring Handler and Silverman. They are scheduled to air in the first and second half, respectively.
NBC has charged upward of $4.5 million for a 30-second spot during the on-air broadcast of Super Bowl XLIX. The network did not indicate how much it was charging for ads that will run on the NBC Sports Live Extra app and Web site.
In support of its decision to produce an ad that would break during a live-stream event, T-Mobile cited a recent survey indicating that "more than 50% of Millennials (a demographic roughly in the age-range of 18-36), would prefer to watch TV on something other than a TV. "
According to T-Mobile, "This new generation of wireless customers who stream, Skype, shop, tweet, post, pin − are defining the Mobile Age. Because this happens to be a group of people very near and dear to our hearts here at T-Mobile, and as America’s Un-carrier, we wanted to bring them this ad in the medium that works best for them."
T-Mobile hit Phoenix during Super Bowl week with a trio of buses wrapped with Sherman's image and company messaging. The moving billboards offered free transportation within the region of the Super Bowl, which is being played in the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
The Kardashian TV spot comes with its own hash tag and directs people to continue the interaction online.
"This isn’t an ad. It’s a social media event," wrote Sievert of the Kardashian spot. "It reaches well beyond the Super Bowl itself. And, we’ve partnered up with Twitter to prepare for the coming flood of personalized Kim-selfies."
In a humorous vein, Handler and Silverman also have bought into T-Mobile's message.
"T-Moible, the 'Un-Carrier," Silverman says at the end of her commercial with Handler. "You don't want to be a carrier. I have some friends that are carriers. Sometimes you never find out."
R. Sherman Gets A T-Mobile Call
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