New Verizon ad with Jamie Foxx targets Sprint customers

Jamie Foxx compares Verizon and Sprint's networks

The new ad makes a direct comparison of Verizon and Sprint’s networks, saying Verizon has more than four times the 4G LTE coverage.
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The new ad makes a direct comparison of Verizon and Sprint’s networks, saying Verizon has more than four times the 4G LTE coverage.

Verizon has shot back at Sprint in the ongoing wireless companies’ advertising battle to steal each other’s customers.

Verizon targeted Sprint with a new advertisement that contrasts the 4G LTE coverage of their networks. It features actor Jamie Foxx and a “double” who looks nothing like Foxx to represent Sprint.

The idea from the ad is that Sprint’s network is no substitute for Verizon’s when it comes to finding the faster data speeds that come from 4G LTE coverage.

For both carriers’ customers, 4G LTE delivers data — streaming video, Facebook posts, app downloads, Pokémon to capture and other popular mobile features — faster than 3G services that preceded it.

Sprint has touted its improved network performance scores in some recent network tests, though it continues to lag in other tests.

In Verizon’s ad, the yellow on Sprint’s map is sparse, especially in much of the western half of the nation. Foxx points this out comically in conversation with his double. The red coverage area on the Verizon map nearly blankets the nation.

Sprint chief executive Marcelo Claure responded to the Verizon ad pointedly.

The Verizon ad essentially rebuts the theme of Sprint’s ads that feature Paul Marcarelli, who previously had been the “Can you hear me now?” pitchman for Verizon. Marcarelli, in Sprint’s ads, declares that all networks are great, so people should move to Sprint’s lower-cost service with a half-off rate plan promotion.

Sprint has said its ads have been working and that it has gained customers at the expense of other wireless carriers, though T-Mobile has questioned that claim.

“That Verizon has to respond with a coverage map shows you that Sprint’s ad is working,” said Roger Entner, an industry analyst with Recon Analytics. “Previously it was like, Sprint did this and everybody was shrugging their shoulders.”

This is not Verizon’s first ad with a Sprint coverage map.

It previously aired ads with comedian Ricky Gervais being surprised by the footnote on a fully yellow U.S. map taken from a Sprint promotion. Gervais uses a magnifying glass to reveal a footnote that was on Sprint’s promotion, “Map is not a depiction of coverage.”

Sprint spokeswoman Adrienne Norton said the new Verizon ad did not accurately represent Sprint. She said Sprint’s 4G LTE coverage reaches 300 million potential users.

“We think the ad is misleading because both Sprint and Verizon cover well over 90 percent of where people are actually located in the country. We have LTE where nearly everybody lives, and we have roaming to cover everywhere else,” Norton said in an email.

Roaming is the practice of using other carriers’ networks to complete a customer’s connection.

“Yes, our footprint is smaller in some markets, but our network covers every major market in the U.S., from Los Angeles to New York, Seattle to Boston, Kansas City and every big city in between,” Norton said.

Jeffrey Nelson, Verizon’s vice president of corporate communication, said Verizon’s network delivers superior service regardless of where a customer lives.

“You don’t have to stay in Kansas City or Overland Park. You can go to Alaska and Idaho and Nebraska and Maine and Florida and West Texas,” Nelson said.

Mark Davis: 816-234-4372, @mdkcstar