Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Why Advertising Still Doesn’t Work: Sprint Tries Its Hardest To Sell Me an iPhone

There are a lot of big brains out there trying to use technology to make ads smarter and more efficient. Example: Google’s (GOOG) plan to roll out its own ad exchange this summer.

And there are lots of marketers trying their best to ignore technology and keep their ads as dumb as possible. Example: Sprint’s email to me this morning trying to convince me to sign a new contract so I can snag a free “Katana Eclipse X” from Sanyo. Here’s the pitch (click to enlarge):


Nothing against the Katana Eclipse X, by the way. I’m sure it’s a fine phone. But here’s the thing: Sprint (S) has my email address because I am a customer. I’ve been one for a decade. And so Sprint knows that:

  • I own a BlackBerry 8830, and that…
  • I spend $100 a month for an all-you-can eat plan (plus another $60 a month for a broadband wireless card!), and that…
  • My contract expires in a couple of weeks.

So if I were Sprint, I’d be trying very hard to convince me not to ditch the company for AT&T (T) and Apple’s (AAPL) new iPhone 3G S, which looks awesome.

And again, nothing against the Katana, which is apparently available in “Nightlife Black and Hypnotic Pink.” But it’s no BlackBerry, and it’s no iPhone. And it’s not a Pre, the phone that Sprint and Palm (PALM) are positioning  to compete against those two.

But I’ve yet to get an email from Sprint telling me that the Pre exists–perhaps the company hopes that I’ll be wowed by its new woman-friendly TV ads. Or what about Research in Motion’s (RIMM) new “Tour,” which is coming out this summer and looks great? Nope. Had to learn about that one by reading a blog.

So while I worry that I’ll regret typing this, here goes: Dear Sprint: You know where I live, what I own and how much I spend. You know I’m a free agent at the end of the month. Want to keep me? Start pitching.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald