Ina Fried

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Carly Dumps Her Pink Dresses, as T-Mobile Aims for an Image Makeover

T-Mobile’s Carly is trading in her pink dresses for leather and a Ducati motorcycle.

In new commercials debuting later on, the carrier’s spokeswoman throws her trademark dress on the ground and takes to the open road with the tagline “No More Mr. Nice Girl.”

Likewise, the No. 4 U.S. carrier is looking to change its image. T-Mobile has been losing customers and has seen its effort to sell itself to AT&T fall short. With no similar deal on the horizon — and no iPhone on its shelves — T-Mobile is working on its Plan B.

The company plans a broader effort to re-brand itself for the second half of the year.

“We’re working toward a brand refresh later in the year,” T-Mobile senior VP Peter DeLuca said in an interview. “We really can’t wait until the end of the year to make some noise in the market.”

And the company is hoping Carly’s new image will help do that. T-Mobile is also launching a new Android phone — the HTC One S — later this week at an event in New York. An ad highlighting that device will be among the new Carly spots.

Parent company Deutsche Telekom has vowed to invest $4 billion in the operation it once hoped to shed, following its rivals with a next-generation LTE network. Until that gets rolling next year, though, T-Mobile will continue to pitch its current 4G network, which is based on HSPA+, a souped-up version of the technology that powers 3G.

T-Mobile is also planning a $200 million incremental boost to its advertising spending. The new ad campaign will debut on television, DeLuca said. However, T-Mobile is also spending a lot of its dollars in other areas, including pre-roll ads on Hulu and takeover ads on YouTube.

Part of the marketing will also include a “test drive” Web site, where T-Mobile hopes to show its devices can be faster than rival devices, such as the iPhone.

“We really want to set the record straight and say to the consumer they really should be taking a second look at T-Mobile,” DeLuca said.

In addition to remaking its image, T-Mobile is also looking to cut costs, announcing plans to slash call-center jobs and acknowledging it is considering selling its U.S. cell towers.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik