Sprint PCS Pitches 3G with “MIB” Ads

To boost excitement around its coming third-generation wireless services, Sprint’s PCS Group is launching a new effort in connection with the upcoming release of “Men In Black 2.”

The “Out of This World Clarity” campaign, which launches with television ads Monday evening, represents Kansas City, Mo.-based Sprint PCS’ largest movie marketing tie-in to date. TV spots, designed by Sprint PCS’ agency of record Publicis Hal Riney of San Francisco, link elements of the wireless carrier’s current TV spots with characters from Sony Pictures’ sci-fi comedy, due for release July 3.

Similarly to the setup in Sprint PCS’ long-running campaign, which promote the sound quality of the nation’s fourth-largest wireless network, the new spot shows the “Sprint Guy” — the black trenchcoat-clad, shades-of-Joe Friday pitchman — now coming to the aid of the alien worms from the film.

In the spot, the worms have misheard “tangerine” due to inferior cellular phone service, and, having heard “trampoline” instead, are bouncing around comically. Meanwhile, the Sprint Guy tells them that this sort of problem could have been avoided by using Sprint PCS’s digital network.

The campaign, for which spending was not disclosed, also relies heavily on product placement in the film, showing Sprint devices performing next-generation tasks like digital imaging and faster Internet access speeds — features that will be available with the launch of Sprint PCS 3G in coming months.

“The previous campaign promoted clarity in terms of voice,” said spokesman Dan Wilinsky. “But pretty soon coming from Sprint is clarity with data. The new campaign is a precursor to our 3G services that we’ll make available later this summer.”

Sprint’s NASCAR sponsorship — of the #45 Dodge Intrepid driven by Kyle Petty — also will reflect the movie partnership, with the vehicle sporting an “MIB2”-inspired paint job.

Once Sprint’s 3G services launch, the wireless carrier will offer a number of MIB-branded applications, including a wireless game designed by Digital Bridges.

“You’re going to see MIB ringtones, screensavers and games,” Wilinsky said. “The integration into MIB2 and the marketing campaign from Sprint features ways to do more than just make a phone call form a Sprint PCS phone.”

A big-budget promotional effort behind its coming 3G services is to be expected from Sprint, considering the believe by many in the wireless space that advanced services will help the battered industry rebound from sluggish spending and persistent economic woes.

In recent weeks, Sprint PCS in particular has been hammered by investors on debt concerns and after reporting slower-than-expected subscriber growth.

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