O2 revamps ad strategy with £70m 'value' brand push

O2: £70m ad campaign with a 'value' focus
O2: £70m ad campaign with a 'value' focus

O2 is to launch a fresh advertising strategy across all products and services, featuring a Narnia-inspired fantasy world.

The creative will be used above and below-the-line, retaining its bubbles logo, but introducing the strapline "We're always thinking about you".

O2 spent £40m on above-the-line ads in 2010, and is expected to maintain this in 2011. The group is expected to spend £70m on all media in 2011.

Ads will centre on a "cheeky" faun brand character – a half-human, half-goat, who will talk about existing O2 customers in each clip, claiming that they get better value using the brand.

Sally Cowdry, director of marketing at O2, said the priority in all marketing is to emphasise that its customers are getting value for money.

‘We found people were wary of their financial position, and there is a sense of this worsening with the VAT rise,’ she said. ‘Customers wanted to feel they were getting value for money, and wanted to know what was in it for them personally, and to be treated as individuals.’

The first set of ads is intended to show that the network’s existing customers get the best deals. Those on pre-pay tariffs are rewarded with 10% of the value of their top-ups back every month, which can be spent on calls, handsets or in-store vouchers.

A sense of optimism was essential to the campaign, said Cowdry, as was the need to put existing users at the heart of messages. "All [ads in the] new series will fit into this format," she added.

Ads were created by VCCP, with ZenithOptimedia handling media and AIS responsible for digital marketing.

"We have created a surreal world, a representation of the mind of O2, and in that world we are thinking of individual customers, who are brought into that world," said Cowdry.

Future ads in the campaign will highlight new business areas. Last week O2 launched its first 450 free Wi-Fi hotspots. It will roll out mobile payment systems in the summer. Both services are expected to feature in later ads.

O2’s regular voiceover artist, actor Sean Bean, will have a less prominent role in future campaigns, only signing off the ads, while the narration will be provided by the faun character. In a reference to previous creative, yellow plastic ducks will be shown floating down rivers.

Separately, O2 will be introducing in-store technology "gurus" to help customers get the most out of their devices.

These staff will feature in digital campaigns later in the year, with viral films also being produced to give mobile tips to viewers. Cowdry said she expected O2 to remain the top UK digital advertiser in 2011.

Separately, O2 signed a proximity marketing deal with Marks & Spencer last month, which offers O2 customers digital vouchers for free smoothies at M&S with additional purchases.

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