Phone Tag

Matt Carter moves Boost Mobile from a noncontender to a leader in its category by making all the right calls

But even with a new operating structure and an inventive rebranding strategy, Carter, who this year ranked among the “Top 25 Most Powerful People in U.S. Wireless” by FierceWireless.com, still faced setbacks in the creative execution of his new “Unwronged” campaign, which was panned by media critics and confused consumers. “The ‘Unwronged’ campaign was wrapped around the creative concept of wrongs within the cell phone industry,” he explains. “We tried to position ourselves as the new sheriffs in town fixing all the wrongs in the wireless industry. We recognize that some creative executions will be off the mark, but what’s important is to recognize that [you need to] get a better solution in place as quickly as you can.” Boost, maintaining the new campaign message and slogan, has unveiled clearer creative direction with Danica Patrick.

Carter’s future goals for Boost: aggressively expand market share. In July 2009, Sprint purchased Virgin Mobile for $483 million—a strategic acquisition to dominate that segment. He also recently struck a deal with the Home Shopping Network, which has access to 90 million homes nationwide, further broadening Boost’s market reach. While Boost is currently sold in a variety of major retail outlets including Best Buy, Walmart, and Target, the goal for Boost Mobile is to build 2,700 independent retail outlets around the country.

Competition remains stiff. According to Power, major competitors have lowered prices and AT&T just released a $60 all-inclusive program. But Carter thrives on such challenges: “Developing the right strategy is not just what we have to accomplish today, but how we are setting the company up for sustainable growth five years from now. We are sowing the right seeds to set us up. That’s the model I have.”

“I was one of those people who would knock on your door on Friday [evening] with the big idea. And I realized that the big idea just stayed there. It never got any traction. It’s frustrating [to] actually visualize how something should materialize and it’s just sitting there. I got much more introspective and went back to my athletic days where you’ve got to set goals and measure your progress. It became evident to me what you do in business is very similar to what I experienced as an athlete. There are no gray areas in athletics. Did you win or did you lose? Did you score or not? It’s very much about goals and achievement.”

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