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Sprint CEO thanks Ricky Gervais for anti-Sprint Verizon ads

Technically Incorrect: In a Twitter exchange, Marcelo Claure has a giggle at the new Verizon spokesman. Gervais takes evasive action. Meanwhile, residents of Kansas are upset.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Does he speak with forked tongue? Or does he just take the money?

Verizon/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

What's the matter with us now? Residents of Kansas have surely been asking themselves that question for the last couple of days.

Ever since Verizon released a couple of ads poking amusement at Sprint and its hometown of Kansas City, there's been a veritable Missouri of consternation.

The local media has wondered why, oh, why new Verizon spokesman Ricky Gervais is, as they say in England, taking the piss out of such an innocent place and company.

So Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure stood up for his company's hometown and threatened to punch the Englishman on the nose.

Well, not quite. Claure took to Twitter to thank Gervais and Verizon.

"Thanks @Verizon and @rickygervais for advertising that @sprint is faster and more reliable. We agree with you," he said.

Bragging rights, you see, are serious business -- even when there's a laugh track -- for the companies that provide you with your mobile phone's wireless coverage, or lack thereof. Or else why would people at places like RootMetrics and OpenSignal bother measuring that sort of thing?

Claure helpfully added an image from one of the ads with Sprint's own interpretations. Verizon had featured a big yellow map of the US with the headline: "Faster, more reliable and better coverage than ever."

Claure explained how stunningly accurate this was, in his view.

And then there was the little joke that Gervais had offered about the small print beneath the map, the small print that explains the map doesn't accurately depict the coverage. Claure's annotation: "Verizon does it too, Ricky. Just obeying the law."

Yes, the law does say you shouldn't put a completely yellow map on the screen that suggests Sprint has 100 percent coverage.

You might wonder that Gervais would rise above Claure's tweet. But no. He zipped right back on Twitter with: "Don't shoot the messenger:)."

Some might interpret this as: "They're paying me bucketloads for this. Can you hear me now?"

Still on Twitter, Sprint's retail director Bobbi Lee replied to Gervais by challenging him to a speed test in LA.

This was immediately replied to by someone called Ryan A who said: "Maybe in LA. I have sprint and its trash if not in a big city (sucked in Vegas too)." Ah.

Phone companies do adore tossing barbs at each other. The only question is whether claims that seems so similar from all of them actually move anyone.

Perhaps it's a matter better left to cartographers.

"Even though Verizon is spending millions on its new campaign," a Sprint spokeswoman told me, "they are not disputing our claim that we are better, faster and more reliable than ever. They just don't like our map. "

Still, I can't wait to see Claure challenge Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam to see who has the bigger hands. That's when you know things have become really serious.

Updated 1.22pm: Adds comment from Sprint.