Sprint Nextel Corporation: Monday Nights Free And Clear campaign

Susan Risland



OVERVIEW

NOTE: Since the initial appearance of this essay in the 1998 edition of Major Marketing Campaigns Annual, the Sprint Corporation merged with Nextel to become Sprint Nextel. The essay continues to refer to the company's former name, as that was the official name of the organization when the campaign was launched.

Sprint Corporation's "Monday Nights Free and Clear" campaign publicized free long-distance calling services that the telecommunications company offered during the last four months of 1997. Each month customers could make up to 500 minutes of telephone calls on Monday evenings at no charge. The two-part campaign began with a phase tied to the company's sponsorship of the National Football League (NFL); these commercials featured professional football players. The second phase featured a commercial called "Speak Freely on Monday Nights" in which people misunderstood Sprint's invitation to "speak freely" and ruined relationships with friends and families by voicing opinions they would not normally have shared. For example, in one segment a man said to a friend wearing a toupee, "Bob, you're not fooling anyone. It doesn't even look like hair." The two-part campaign was intended to persuade consumers to try Sprint's long-distance service and to publicize the company's flat rate of 10 cents a minute in the evenings and on weekends. Sprint's straightforward calling plan had helped increase the company's sales at a time when its primary competitors were alienating some consumers by airing ads that were perceived to be attacks on other telecommunications companies. Most advertisements for telecommunications services were not very popular with the public, but surveys showed that consumers liked the "Monday Nights Free and Clear" campaign more than Sprint's previous commercials.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT