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T-Mobile fees
Those aren’t fleas, they’re fees in a new T-Mobile ad. (YouTube screen grab)

T-Mobile never really shies from going to the edge when it comes to promoting its wireless service. But perhaps the Bellevue, Wash.-based company has finally gone too far with a new ad campaign highlighting its efforts to remove hidden fees from customer bills.

Two commercials that have shown up on TV while I was watching NFL football games both got resounding “gross!” and “oh, I hate this!” reactions from the crowd I was watching with over the weekend. Based on some of the comments on YouTube, the sentiment is widespread.

In the ad called “Daughter,” below, a young girl walks into the kitchen and tells her mom that her head itches. Mom does an inspection of the girl’s scalp and says, “Oh my goodness, you have fees!”

Tiny black words are seen crawling through the girl’s hair, including “line access fees” and “administrative fees.” The dad in the ad then checks the son’s head and says, “You got ’em, too” as the word “taxes” is shown crawling across the boy’s scalp and over dad’s fingers.

The parents blame the kids for hanging out with friends who are on AT&T and “get fees every month.” But the girl proclaims, “We’re in love” and the ad ends with her next to a boy as tiny words crawl all over the two of them.

T-Mobile made a big showing at CES in Las Vegas last week with its latest “Un-Carrier” initiative in which it said it would include taxes and fees in the rates it promised customers. Giving customers the creeps with a new ad campaign wasn’t part of the bargain.

The ads strike a nerve for anyone whose kid has come home from school with something crawling on his or her head. It’s a pain in the ass to deal with and hardly the stuff that comedy is made of.

A sampling of YouTube comments showed viewers were less than impressed.

  • “100% GROSS and NASTY! I saw the crawling in the hair and immediately turned the channel. Hands down, The worst commercial ever.”
  • “Commercial makes me itch and cringe every time. T- mobile if you want to pay 100’s of thousands of dollars to someone to bring you BAD commercial ideas, please give me a call. This spot does nothing to push your brand. Associating crawling items in someone’s hair with your network? Please fire someone.”
  • “T mobile should scrap their marketing/advertising crew… gross!!!!”
  • “This is the creepiest commercial. ever. If I was contemplating switching to T-Mobile, this commercial would immediately nix any thoughts of doing so. Just a completely negative, visceral reaction to it.”

CEO John Legere has been a big fan of his company’s advertising in the past, sharing links on his Twitter feed and so forth. Something tells us he’s just going to give us the #feeface for raising a stink about these spots.

But we’ll stick to the ads which feature Legere himself and a well-timed spit take. That’s comedy.

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