Pressing for new subscribers, Sprint chief executive Marcelo Claure has called in a friend and business partner, retired soccer star David Beckham.
Beckham appears in Sprint ads airing during the U.S. Women’s World Cup match against Germany on Fox4 on Tuesday evening.
The two have been friends since meeting at a party hosted by Jennifer Lopez. They also have become business partners in an effort to bring Major League Soccer to Miami. Claure had sold his company Brightstar Corp. in Miami before joining Sprint last August.
In the Sprint ads, Beckham develops a following by going from competitor to competitor and being confused by the plans they offer. At the Sprint store, he finds the simple, unlimited wireless plan he wants.
It is Sprint’s newest offer called All-In, an $80 a month unlimited data plan, phone included. Data is the stuff phones need to download apps, update Facebook, and stream music and videos.
Claure, ever the salesman, tried to stir interest with a Twitter post last Friday. He wrote that he’d found Beckham at an AT&T store — or maybe the photo was from the commercial shoot.
“Look who I found roaming at my competitors store. … I can’t believe David Beckham would do something like this?” Claure posted.
Several followers seemed to play along. One asked what Claure was doing there, and Claure kept up the game.
“I always go visit my competitors to see how they are doing but never expected to see David there. Can you believe that?” Claure wrote in reply.
Unsold, the follower tweeted back “NOT REALLY … hahaha …”
Claure has embarked on aggressive campaigns to win customers, including a recent push in the Kansas City area. The company has struggled to hang on to customers for years. Fast growing rival T-Mobile US has come close to catching No. 3 Sprint in total subscribers.
Not everyone is happy with the All-In offer from Sprint.
One sticking point is a limit on the amount of streaming video it allows a customer to consume, according to the footnote on the advertisement with Beckham.
Limited to 600 kilobites per second for streaming video, it’s not enough data to “run any YouTube or Netflix streaming. It will buffer significantly even with the lowest resolution settings,” wrote Robert Herron on the S4GRU blog that focuses on Sprint’s network.
Herron posted his complaint in an editorial taking Sprint to task for the All-In offer and the streaming video limit. He notes that wireless companies have serious issues with data hogs but that this deal seems misdirected.
“It appears as a marketing gimmick that is disguising a desperate move to limit streaming,” Herron wrote.
Sprint spokesman Doug Duvall said in an email that Sprint seeks to “provide a high quality video experience” while “preserving as much bandwidth as possible for other users.”
The company has used limits on video streaming for some plans since July 2013, Duvall said.