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'Tasteless' T-Mobile Ad 'Belittles' Smartphone Theft

By Daniel Santa Cruz
October 17, 2013 - News

Another of T-Mobile's ads is in the spotlight, and not in a positive way.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wrote a letter to the carrier, calling one of the company's new television ads "tasteless." The men are calling for T-Mobile to pull the commercial, which makes fun of smartphone theft. The attorneys says the commercial "belittles" what's become a major problem in some of America's largest cities, according to CNET.

"This ad is more than tasteless: These robberies often turn violent and have resulted in severe injuries and multiple deaths," the letter said.

This particular commercial features comedian Bill Hader being held up in a parking lot. When when the robber sees how old his smartphone is, he backs away. Hader then begs the man to take his phone.

Gascon and Schneiderman criticized T-Mobile for using a potentially traumatizing experience in a comedic tone to sell more phones.

"The many victims of theft do not need to relive these harrowing incidents by way of a television commercial, and T-Mobile should not be lending credibility to thieves by reenacting the scenes with a comedic slant," the letter later said.

T-Mobile said it takes smartphone theft seriously and is working with the industry to deal with the issue.

"This collaborative work, including carriers, manufacturers and other parties aims to find new deterrents and other measures to thwart this kind of crime across the country," T-Mobile said in a statement emailed to CNET.

The two government officials have been campaigning to push the wireless industry to take more steps to reduce smartphone theft, such as a "kill switch" to be embedded in devices.

T-Mobile has been criticized before for its ads. The National Advertising Division gave T-Mobile a warning for commercials that claimed it had superior bandwidth to AT&T.   

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