You could say Boost Mobile picked a fight, and it’s still throwing punches in the battle for prepaid customers.
Yesterday, Virgin Mobile grabbed headlines with its new $50 plan, but Boost didn’t waste anytime putting out a release of its own saying that Virgin’s $50 plan quickly adds up to a $72 monthly plan when text messaging, Web and telecom taxes are thrown into the mix.
Boost came out earlier this year with its own $50 plan that includes unlimited nationwide talk, text and multimedia messaging, wireless Web access and walkie-talkie services. It says it doesn’t add any more taxes or fees on top of that $50.
Boost Mobile did a “me too” service at the end of 2007 when it went into select markets with a CDMA offering akin to what Leap Wireless International/Cricket Communications and MetroPCS were doing. But add-ons were still in the mix, contributing to that ever-dizzying array of pricing options for consumers, admits Boost’s chief marketing officer, Neil Lindsay.
Then Boost company executives said “this is crazy,” he says. “You’re being too clever for the business model and the customers,” most of whom want text, voice and the ability to check weather or sports scores without paying extra fees. The big benefit of an all-inclusive offer is it doesn’t lead to confusion, he says.
How does it pencil out business-wise for Boost? Lindsay says it’s a law of averages, and if someone uses so much bandwidth that it denigrates the experience for others, then they’ll investigate, similar to how it works in the desktop Internet world. Boost’s latest plan, which uses the iDEN network, is not intended for business users who make “a million” calls a day, but in general, it averages out between those customers who use a lot of network resources and those who don’t.
Meanwhile, he says Boost’s latest ads, which feature everything from a “man baby” to two pigs eating a ham, are effective in getting their message across. The ads are designed to point out a “wrong” and the fact that Boost is trying to make it right in the cellular world. Testing has shown the ads scored well on their ability to break through clutter, and they scored well on recall and getting people to talk about them, he says. “We have a lot of people who love them and a bunch of people who hate them,” he says. “But the point is we had a point to it. There have been a lot of conversations going on, so it’s worked for us.”
He says Boost had no intention of offending anyone, and the visual “wrongs” work to stand out in the minds of its target market, similar to scenes from movies like “There’s Something About Mary” and “40-Year-Old Virgin,” which married the outrageous with comedy.
Boost’s ad agency, 180LA, is coming up with other ideas as well. In Chicago, Boost has actual paper shredders at bus stops designed to shred cell phone service contracts.