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Verizon says 'Can You Hear Me Now?' tagline is now irrelevant

Technically Incorrect: After Sprint hires the guy who recited the famous line in Verizon commercials, a Verizon ad shows Jamie Foxx sniffing that no one talks on the phone anymore.

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


He doesn't care whether you can hear him now.

Verizon/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

They do love to get at each other like frat children, those phone companies.

It seems as if they think carping at each other will make us love them more.

When all we really want to say is: "Oh, do belt up and make our data costs cheaper."

Still, once Sprint hired Paul Marcarelli, the man who used to repeat "Can You Hear Me Now?" in Verizon ads over and over again, you knew Verizon would have to snitter back.

And so the company released an ad this week in which Jamie Foxx plays Future's dad.

His name is Past. Nitpickers might wonder why his name isn't Present. Past would be Grandad, no?

Here is Foxx singing a song not unlike Future's hit "F*** Up Some Commas." This, though, is entitled "I Got Verizon."

Foxx, dabbing around with his old man's cane, dabbles in some mockery about AT&T -- compulsory in this genre.

But then he offers: "It ain't about 'Can You Hear Me Now?" It's about 'Can You See Me Now?'"

There you have it, Sprint.

You might have hired Verizon's spokesman, but he's from a bygone age, one in which people really did talk on the phone. Who does that now?

A Sprint spokeswoman told me: "I guess Verizon can hear us now." She said the company was thrilled that Verizon has recognized how popular the Sprint campaign is. She described the campaign's impact as "unparalleled."

Jeff Nelson, Verizon's VP of corporate communications, seems unconvinced by Sprint's derring-do. He told me: "Sprint's using our 2002 spokesman because they're finally catching up to Verizon's 2002 network."

I am concerned, though, that its ads with Marcarelli may not be working as Sprint would wish. It's currently running versions featuring him that have the Sprint phone number on screen all the way through.

This, in the ad business, is a classic sign of fear.

It's like someone desperate for his lover to ring deciding to sit next to the phone and shout at it.

And does she ever hear him?

Update, 12:30 p.m. PT: Adds comment from Sprint.
Update, 2:45 p.m. PT: Adds comment from Verizon.