Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Can you hear me...NOW? (When spokespeople become free agents)

It seems like a good idea at the time. "Let's start an ad campaign and use a highly recognizable character as part of it!" a marketer exults. So the campaign is launched, people like it, and the campaign - and its character - get attention. A lot of attention.

But the years go by, times change, and contracts expire. The most interesting man in the world isn't so interesting any more. The two guys on the porch - no, their real names were NOT Frank Bartles and Ed Jaymes - lose the support for which they were so thankful. We don't really care what beer Bob Uecker and John Madden drink any more (we want to see women wrestling). And we don't want to know what Jared Fogle is doing.

Or, in the case of former Verizon pitchman Paul Marcarelli - Verizon's "Can you hear me now?" guy - Verizon didn't want to hear him any more.

By Stagophile - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49310336

The contract with the spokesperson ends, and perhaps there's a non-compete clause, but eventually it also ends. Which leaves the pitchperson free to work for someone else, to the possible embarrassment of the original company.

And Paul switched to Sprint.

Verizon can do nothing to prevent Paul Marcarelli from working for Sprint, so they're trying to make the best of a bad situation.

"Sprint is using our 2002 pitchman because their network is finally catching up to our 2002 network quality."

Sprint is hoping that Marcarelli's presence will help convince people that Sprint is now the better network. Meanwhile, Verizon is hoping that people won't remember Marcarelli, or won't care even if they do remember him. Meanwhile, Marcarelli is hoping that Sprint's contract lasts as long as Verizon's did. And T-Mobile's former spokeswoman Carly Foulkes and AT&T's current spokeswoman Milana Vayntrub are hoping that there's more wireless service money to be doled out to actors.
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