Sprint called on “real people” to engage in a discussion about which mobile carrier was the best. Out of all the responses the phone company honed in on, one customer said “ghetto” was the first word to come to mind when thinking of T-Mobile.
“Oh my god, the first word that came to my head is ghetto,” the white woman said as the rest of the mostly white group erupted in laughter.
“That sounds, like, terrible. Oh my god. I don’t know, like, I just felt like there’s always three carriers: AT&T, Sprint and Verizon,” she added as the others continued nodding their heads in agreement. “People that have T-Mobile are just, like, why do you have T-Mobile? I don’t know.”
She shrugged and smiled as laughs could be heard off camera. But some viewers felt they were being laughed at and not with.
“Honest answers from real people on my #ListeningTour across the country,” Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure tweeted. “Sometimes the truth hurts, @TMobile.”
One irate viewer tweeted in response, “I’m a sprint customer and I will be canceling my service. That is so racist. My wife is black. You just lost two customers.”
With “ghetto” often referring to underrepresented communities and low-income families, Sprint was blasted online for choosing this statement for their ad, which they have since pulled.
Verizon jumped at the chance to get new customers and tweeted, “Considering a switch? We’d like to think we’re a good fit. Send us a DM for deals on switching.”
To which another tweeted, “@verizon Can I get in on the non-racist deals? Would love to ditch @sprint.”
In response to the backlash, Claure, who is Latino, tweeted, “We’re sharing real comments from real customers. Maybe not the best choice of words by the customer. Not meant to offend anyone.”
When one upset viewer called Claure out for being “disrespectful to all of us low-middle class Latinos,” he quickly defended himself tweeting, “that I won’t take. I am as Latino as you are so don’t try to pull that card.”