T-Mobile UnCarrier Ad Featuring Phone Theft Lands Company In “Hot Water”

T-Mobile’s JUMP! ad campaign with Bill Hader has met moderate success but now one of the ads is landing the company in some “hot water.” A letter written by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman ask the carrier to pull the ad featuring Hader and an attempted mugging.

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

The ad itself features the former SNL star getting held up in a parking garage only to have the thief hand the phone back to Hader when he recognizes it’s an older smartphone of no value. Hader then attempts to turn the tables on the mugger and force the man to take his phone.

Gascon and Schneiderman criticize T-Mobile for making light of the phone theft issue and not doing more to cut smartphone theft.

“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 said.

For T-Mobile’s part, they take smartphone theft seriously and will continue 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 to CNET.


The full letter follows below:

John J. Legere
T-Mobile US, Inc.
12920 SE 38th Street
Bellevue, WA 98006

Dear Mr. Legere,

We are writing in regards to an offensive ad from T-Mobile featuring comedian Bill Hader. The ad, which shows Hader being robbed for his smartphone, seeks to make a joke of the growing epidemic of smartphone theft. This ad is more than tasteless: These robberies often turn violent and have resulted in severe injuries and multiple deaths.

Consumer reports estimates that more than 1.6 million Americans were victimized for their smartphones in 2012, many thousands of whom were presumably T-Mobile customers. What’s shocking is that despite the victimization of its customers, T-Mobile has not only refused to take steps to reduce theft, it’s making a joke of the situation in order to upsell its customers to newer phones.

We strongly urge you to pull these ads. 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.

We also urge you to take action to implement effective theft deterrents. Relying on an ineffective solution such as the CTIA database or incremental theft deterrence features on the part of the manufacturers is not enough. What is T-Mobile doing to make its customers safer?

T-Mobile is profiting from the theft of smartphones and the victimization of its customers, and now its advertisements are undermining the seriousness of a crime which has reached epidemic levels. It’s time for telecommunications giants such as T-Mobile to step up and make meaningful progress towards implementing safeguards that protect consumers against these violent thefts. Anything less demonstrates a lack of concern for the safety of its customers.

George Gascon
San Francisco District Attorney

Eric Schneiderman
New York Attorney General

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  • Why so serious

    Jeeze, it’s a commercial.

  • CactusCat

    These jokers can’t even start to be taken seriously. Let’s see… the NY attorney general and the SF DA. Did these clowns write any letters to the Law and Order TV show (of which the original takes place in NY and has some graphic incidents to make it realistic)? No, of course not. Instead, these morons write to a seller of cell phones about a commercial. Forget the idoitic rants from these fools…

  • jimmiekain

    I thought the commercial was pretty funny. Didnt take it seriously at all.

    • KlausWillSeeYouNow

      Then you’re a normal, rational person. Exactly how it was meant to be taken…

  • D Velasquez

    are you kidding me? how is this commercial offensive? this was hilarious!

    • WW

      Agreed and many TV shows & movies (comedy & dramatic) feature graphic violence. Has this overzealous AG demanded that those all be censored as well?

  • Inchul Yoon

    people need to stop being overly sensitive and find better things to do…

  • Maxmillian1

    OMG CAN ANYONE IN THIS COUNTRY TAKE A CHILL PILL????? NO ONE dances in the shower because of the soap!!!! It’s a Tv Ad!!!!!!

  • booooo_att

    Wonder if this guy is friends with someone at AT&T…

  • guest12345

    Everyday things get more ridiculous

  • jaxgrim

    Dear Mr Gascon and Mr Schneiderman,

    I invite you to pull those huge sticks out of your backsides.


    These two douchebags make DEBBIE DOWNER look like a party girl on X……………

  • NinoBr0wn

    I thought the commercial was funny as hell. But I never been stuck up for my phone. But still funny as hell.

  • moises1204

    this two guys just want to make a name for themselves, t mobile keep your add it’s the funniest of them all!

  • USMCGySgt

    Holy fucking shit! A DA in San Fran getting butthurt over a damn commercial? For how often people over there do put things in their asses, I would have figured differently. T-Mobile, keep your ads up and have the CEO give the universal 1-finger salute to DA George Gascon for being a fucking pussy. Or I’ll do it courtesy of everybody that has ever worn a set of Dress Blues.

  • Andrew

    okay, so i got robbed by 4 guys in an abandoned house at gun-point in real life and i still think this commercial is really funny.. i’m actually more offended by the people trying to get it pulled.

  • WasTedBrO

    People can be such pussies


    Wow. We surly are turning into a bunch of pussies now aren’t we. What is worse is that these two douches are only doing this for political gains. Not because some other asses got their feelings hurt. SMH at our pathetic government.


    I would like to know who exactly donates to his politcal compaigns.

  • Really? I mean Really?

    Those two obviously need more to do. I’m sure each of those states has more pressing issues. Also there are drugs and therapy for the people that get that upset over the commercial because it “caused them to relive their mugging.” Pussies

  • William C Boehm Jr

    I don’t agree w/ telling ppl to pull ads. it’s not insensitive, it’s a joke..calm down…but then the first few comments I read below, ppl are calling other ppl pussies…so, lets resort to name calling and be jerks about it..because that’s the answer……yeah…”sarcasm” Let’s all just point the fact out that the letter to John was over reacting to a joke. A funny commercial that disconnects from the reality of a mugging..by exaggeration…like..you know..jokes do!

  • Rango0111

    These two idiots are making California and New York look like a bunch ___holes. There are many traumatic experiences we go through in our lives its good to be able to laugh about it. Get rid of these two complaining about this ad!

  • Steve

    New York and California- bunch of cry babies.

  • vit137

    John J. Legere
    T-Mobile US, Inc.
    12920 SE 38th Street
    Bellevue, WA 98006

    Dear Mr. Legere,

    We are writing today regarding the offensive ad from T-mobile which features a defenseless thief being intimidated and assaulted by a cell-phone user who is attempting to commit a fraud.

    AskJeeves.com estimates that 450,000 people every year report their cell-phones stolen when in reality they just foisted them off onto some unsuspecting vagrant. We strongly urge you to pull these ads.


    Aloysis Bearribs
    Petty thief and cellphone-fraud advocate

  • Ronnie Miller

    Inappropriate comment, man.

  • Custemmade

    Yoy have got to be joking me with that comment

  • http://tmonews.com David

    Deleted…no need for that, the conversation should circle around the idea that this ad is or is not wrongfully portraying phone theft.

  • Mirad77

    Wow, what side of ur bed did u wake up on?

  • Vic

    that’s not hate mongering, Mish. And Fox? Really? tell us what that has to do with anything.

  • Little Richard

    Look everybody, it’s the faux free-thinker distracting and blaming fox, his only defense. :P he’s hoping nobody will recognize that’s he’s deviated from the topic at hand, and clearly some haven’t with the upvotes hes got.

  • thepanttherlady

    Agreed. Comments deleted. Keep on topic please everyone.

  • KlausWillSeeYouNow

    While I certainly respect your administrative opinion, I take umbrage at being called a hatemonger. :-( You know I’m no troll, Panther Lady, so if my remarks were off-topic let’s also cleanse the comment section of the comments that accuse others of hatemongering. (See Mish.) I am not a hatemonger nor was my intent to divide; I take umbrage at that characterization.

    I’m here for T-Mobile, and while I know you know that, not everybody does. :-) How is your Z1, by the way? Official launch on Magenta comin’ up…

  • KlausWillSeeYouNow

    Also, what are your thoughts about this?! I called Sony Xperia and they didn’t seem to know a thing about it…


  • WW

    Thanks for removing the also politically slanted reply comment (I was responding when I was notified that it had been removed).

  • thepanttherlady

    I read this article: http://www.xperiablog.net/2013/10/12/kaz-confirms-no-big-plans-for-china-and-us-xperia-push/

    Seems they’re just trying to concentrate where the market share is best which is smart for them. I commented on the article the other day stating that as long as their phones continue to support T-Mobile bands/frequencies I’ll continue buying my phones from overseas.

  • thepanttherlady

    LOVING my Z1, so much more than the XZ! Frustrated that it seems to be taking forever for someone to release a tempered glass oleophobic screen protector though. Just bought a non-metal bumper on Ebay, had one on my Note 2 and really, really liked it. Only thing left to buy will be the QX10 or QX100, haven’t decided which one I want yet. Have to buy a new laptop first. :/

  • KlausWillSeeYouNow

    *GONG RINGS* The Panther Lady of fairness has spoken!

    Thanks for doing that. What’s fair is fair.

    And good for you! Sony does make great phones; I love my LG Optimus G Pro (international) right now, and I agree – as long as it has the bands, it’s good for me.

    I really might get a Sony though once I amass enough pocket change in the “new phone fund.” I really like the Z1. What a camera. It makes my G Pro’s 13 MP shooter seem like a lightweight. ;-)

  • thepanttherlady

    Have to be fair to everyone. :)

  • thepanttherlady

    Save the pocket change for a few months. I’m really liking the Z2 rumors thus far. I was planning on the Z1 being my last phone purchase for a while until I read those rumors. :/

    I. Need. Help. LOL :)

    ETA: Read last night that Sony is supposed to be adding wireless charging to their phones at some point in 2014. That would be awesome!

  • KlausWillSeeYouNow

    Ooh! With a camera like the Z1′s, I’d already be in heaven :-) Although (and I don’t blame you, you probably don’t care lol), I am MORE than satisfied with the 13MP camera on my G Pro.

    That Z1 really is tempting…

  • Wilma Flintstone

    I’m getting the Z1 once it hits Tmo. I’m trading in my GS4 for it.

    Do you have one of the attachable camera lenses for yours PantherLady? Rawwrrr lol

    Real question though.

  • KlausWillSeeYouNow

    HAHA! Sounds just like me… :-) Phones Anonymous meeting, anyone? :-P

    I am also tantalized by the prospect of a Nexus 5… but if it debuts with an 8 MP it’s no deal…

  • KlausWillSeeYouNow

    Wow. Wait, doesn’t the Z1 already have Qi charging tho? :-P I’m so confused…

    My G Pro has Qi charging but I didn’t buy the charger for it (yet). Go figure.

  • thepanttherlady

    Not yet, hoping to purchase one next month though. I went with a white Z1 this time versus purple specifically because I intended on getting one of the lenses.

    Have the Sony Smartwatch 2 (came free w/ the phone purchase) and already paid for the Sony IMH10 Miracast (shipping next month). Next up….QX10 or QX100, most likely the QX10.