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August 22, 2007

More than math is off with T-Mobile's ad

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 4:37 PM

One of T-Mobile USA's offerings is myFaves, a feature that gives you unlimited calling to five phone numbers -- cellphone or landline.

It's been something the company has been really proud of, launching a whole ad campaign focused on it. Most of the time, the tagline was something like, "Who is in your Fave 5?"

But one 30-second clip strayed from that theme, and has been getting quite a bit of heat. I have received e-mail from people who find the ad offensive.

In short, the ad shows a dad running into a room, telling his family of five that if they all have myFaves, then they can make unlimited phone calls to 26 people. The kids correct the dad, saying, no five multiplied by five is 25. It ends with the mother telling the kids to stay in school.

Check it out here:

Here's what the backlash has been like so far.

One e-mail sent to me and top executives at T-Mobile says:

I am writing to you in response to T-Mobile's new television ad in which the father has difficulty processing and understanding a simple math problem, only to be ridiculed by his wife and children. I was personally offended by this ad. Must T-Mobile used the tired and overused 'stupid male/father' device in order to sell its product?

I guarantee that you would not have aired an ad in which the mother was depicted as ignorant and stupid and the father told the children 'this is why it's important to stay in school.' Your company has disappointed me by choosing to use this tasteless and insulting (but unfortunately very prevalent) method of advertising.

A second e-mail said:

I am appalled and ANGERED, when I see your company portraying an idiot father in front of his children. Then the pompous mother further demeaning the father by telling her children to go to school.... Rest assured, I will never use your product and if I do meet someone with your product I will inform them of your callous commercials, anti men, anti fathers.

That one is signed by a father who has who "painstakingly guided his children to become a lawyer and a CPA, CFA MBA."

The YouTube site also is collecting a few comments. You can see them here.

The first comment says: "Clueless dad? Check. Kids correcting him? Check. Mom disappointed and embarrassed by her husband? Check. Yep. Just another day in the life of advertising making out men to be moronic buffoons. Thanks T-Mobile. I guess I'm never giving you my business."

I think it's safe to assume T-Mobile is not in these people's Fave 5.

UPDATE: This is generating a fair amount of response on the blog and via email. Here's a couple more comments I've gotten personally.

-- "Good grief! Have these upset people not watched any television lately? Most of the sitcoms humor is entirely based on this sort of mockery of one family member against another. Is it right? Maybe not but apparently it sells because it is watched. These people need to find something to do....."

-- "Wow - lighten up people - it must be nice to have a life so simple that the ad of a mobile telephone company can OFFEND, ANGER or APPALL you. I could only wish that there were less important things in my life so that I too could give a rip about T-Mobile's method of advertising - shoot, I'm even a customer. Pick a different battle. I'm sure the ad execs bantered about the same anti-father, anti-men thoughts mentioned in email number 2 and I'm guessing someone in the room told them it was tasteless and insulting but they ran with it anyway. C'mon - get a grip and go worry about where your property taxes are going and who's ruin...I mean running your city. Please - go a day without a Starbucks."

-- And, here's another sent to execuitves: "I generally do not write to complain about advertisements but your ad really made me sick inside....I generally charge for training but I am willing to develop a diversity and sales training program free of charge for your company. Who knows, with good training, good hiring, and good management of the new individuals you hire to replace the team who thought this ad was a good idea. You might acquire a new creative talent pool who won't create ads that generate customer churn and ultimately give your competition new activations from former T-Mobile customers."

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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Angel Gonzalez
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Kristi Heim
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