The name Paul Marcarelli probably doesn’t ring any bells but you’d almost certainly recognize his face, or at the very least, his voice. He’s the actor that Verizon Wireless used in its “Can you hear me now?” advertising campaign for nearly a decade.
Marcarelli starred in commercials for the nation’s largest wireless provider until 2010 and briefly returned in February 2011 to promote the iPhone 4. He recently picked up another wireless advertising gig although not with his previous employer.
Sprint, currently in last place among the big four wireless providers in the US, has signed Marcarelli as the new face of its brand. Rather than use him to blatantly bash Verizon or others, Sprint is taking a classier approach – at least, in its first commercial spot.
In the new ad which aired during game two of the NBA finals, Marcarelli introduces himself as the guy that used to ask “if you could hear me now” with Verizon. It’s 2016, he says, and every network is great. He carries on about how Sprint’s reliability is now within one percent of Verizon’s and how his new employer is up to 50 percent cheaper than the competition.
While this ad may not be all that distasteful, one can’t say the same about an ad Sprint put out in April in which it described T-Mobile as “ghetto.” Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure quickly apologized on Twitter and removed the ad from rotation.