How T-Mobile and Verizon's Weird Twitter War Shows How Marketing Has Changed

Patrick Antinozzi

Super Bowl Sunday, a most glorious day of the year. Football, friends, and copious amounts of food highlight the annual American "holiday".

And, of course, the biggest brands in the world look to take advantage of all those watching eyes with powerful advertising that leave a memorable impact on viewers.

America's wireless carriers ran multiple commercials during the 5 hour event and, boy, were they ever memorable. As always, the focus was on how awful the other carriers are, as opposed to what makes their own service great.

While Sprint decided to play it safer with not-so-subtle digs at its competition, T-Mobile went all-in on the weird.

Yah, you definitely saw that. That was T-Mobile comparing Verizon's overage fees to BDSM.

And they weren't done there. T-Mobile and comedian Kristen Schaal were intent on making this the theme of the night.

Hoo boy.

After two direct attacks, Verizon felt the need to defend themselves from the onslaught.


While everyone else was thinking this would be a great place to end this forever, T-Mobile trucked right on with an even longer ad.


You got it out of your system now guys? I think we can simply call this a draw an-

Alllllrighty then.

This would continue on throughout the evening. I'll spare you the rest.

So, is there anything we can actually learn from this?

Boundaries have blurred, and may not even exist anymore

A topic like BDSM has been, at the very least, an extremely private one. For others, it's very much still considered taboo. Most brands would never dream of touching such a polarizing topic. It's hardly something you would bring up in front of a global audience of tens of millions to sell wireless services.

And yet, here we are.

Since the rise of social media, brands have been constantly searching for ways to appear more human. They've been taking sides in politics, getting involved in social issues, and making silly jokes at every opportunity.

And as the world becomes more open about a wide variety of topics, including sexuality, it was only a matter of time before brands ventured deeper into this fray as well. Making polarizing stances seems to be the new norm.

But is this what consumers really want?

There's no denying these ads made a huge impact. The tweets went viral, and many publishers wrote about the exchange the following day. Many in a negative light, however.

And it was clear that T-Mobile was trying to resonate with their viewers by talking about one of the biggest irritations customers face with wireless carriers, surprise fees. The intention was good.

But the reaction on social media varied widely. Some found it funny, others were confused, and still others were simply disgusted.

What did you think of the ads and subsequent exchange? Would you employ similar marketing tactics in your own business?

About the Author

Patrick Antinozzi

Patrick is our Content Specialist / Brand Ambassador / Internet Geek. He's got his finger on the pulse of business and retail trends, and loves writing in various corners of the internet. When he's not doing that, you'll find him traveling the world, playing hockey, or ranting about the Montreal Canadiens.

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