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Culture

Sprint attacks Verizon in morbid Super Bowl ad

Commentary: A dad fakes his own death to get out of his Verizon contract. This is your Super Bowl fun from Sprint.

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


He's a model dad.

Sprint/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Let's talk death.

Have you ever wondered how people would react if you died? Have you ever been tempted to fake it, just to see what people would say?

Would they cry? Or would they be glad that you, ornery, ill-spirited fool that you are, are gone?

I ask only because of the new Sprint Super Bowl ad that addresses these issues.

A man pushes his car over a cliff. Inside is a dummy lookalike of him.

He's a good family man, though. He's brought his kids to watch. Once the deed is done, he turns to his son and daughter and says: "Well, kids, daddy's dead."

You might hope, at this point, for an elevation to the drama. Perhaps a police arrest or at least an incursion from child protection services.

Instead, we get Paul Marcarelli, the former Verizon "Can You Hear Me Now?" spokesman who's now hearing the sound of more cash in his bank account courtesy of Sprint.

He's out for a hike, notices the action and plays the role of psychiatrist. There's always a psychiatrist in family dramas.

Marcarelli knows that dad is faking his own death only because he's trying to get out of his Verizon contract.

His kids don't seem so sure about their dad at all. "Isn't that illegal?" says the man's son. Tiny print on the screen tells us that this is, in fact, "extremely illegal."

No matter, Verizon is apparently so constricting a carrier that you have to take extreme action. Verizon customers are also, apparently, quite startling halfwits.

Verizon declined to comment.

And so we're left to contemplate whether this dark humor is just a metaphor for our times, or an artistic, absurdist comment on how mean-spirited Verizon allegedly is.

Some brands believe that the whole purpose of running a Super Bowl ad is to win "the game." This particular game involves getting all sorts of publicity the next day for running the finest ad of all.

I wonder if this ad will get pushed over a cliff by Monday's reviewers. Metaphorically speaking, you understand.