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T-Mobile uses Super Bowl to say 'love who you want'

Commentary: This ad was something of a surprise for the brash carrier.

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


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T-Moble wants them to love who they want.

T-Mobile/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

T-Mobile has rather taken on the personality of its CEO, John Legere.

Rarely slow to lambaste the competition, its personality doesn't quite reflect the innocent pinky magenta color of its logo.

Yet during the Super Bowl, it adopted a different tone.

It ran an ad with what seemed like a purely social message.

It featured babies. Lots of babies. Babies of different races. And a voice that introduces them to our twisted world.

"You come with open minds and the instinct that we are equal," says the kindly voice. 

Is this just a sweet, innocent ad? Not quite. "Some people may see your differences and be threatened by them," says the ad. "But you are unstoppable."

"You'll love who you want," continues the message. (Shouldn't that be "whom"? I must ask the editors. They're very caring about such things.)

The ad also promises these babies that they'll demand equal pay and "not allow where you come from to dictate where you're going." 

They will be "heard, not dismissed."

This is all high-level social optimism, to which many will be partial. 

Indeed, over the last year or two, corporations have been put in the interesting position of defending rights that some might think governments could get around to defending.

Sadly, the ad then veers into troubling territory.

"You will be connected, not alone," says the voiceover. 

Ah. And there I was thinking this was a pure message of hope for the future. Instead, in drops the product with a line that could have been written by the famed altruist Mark Zuckerberg.

T-Mobile referred me to a blog post published by Legere.

In it, he specifically referenced how this ad is different for the company. "Our customers are America. And there's a more important conversation they're having right now."

The conversation, he said, is specifically about equality. 

"We wanted to use our airtime to further that conversation by making this simple point: We all started in the same place. We are more alike than different," he said.

The idea of universal, constant connection, however, is currently being questioned. Even former Facebook executives are concerned about what the site has done to young minds. 

Our phones have, indeed, become an additional limb. Perhaps, though, when these babies have grown up -- even if theirs is a more equal world -- they'll fully realize the dangers they bring with them, too.

Then again, I doubt it. I'm not quite the optimist that T-Mobile seems to be.

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