Mobile carriers stopped selling talk plans in their ads ages ago, preferring instead to tease us with glimpses of how wonderful our lives could be if only we chose them. The result was an indistinguishable mass of big-budget TV spots featuring beautiful young people bopping around town to whatever irritatingly catchy pop song happened to be number one that week.
Tesco Mobile parodies this admirably with its latest TV campaign. 'I'd rather live in a world where people stop talking nonsense,' proclaims the ad's protagonist.
Meanwhile, however, the more established operators, including market-leader O2, are struggling to differentiate themselves.
O2 has, arguably, done the best job of standing out from the crowd, building on its association with the former Millennium Dome and sponsorship of the England rugby union team to offer customers preferential treatment at events.
Despite this, and since losing its exclusive grip on Apple's iPhone, it is now looking to diversify its business (see cover story). Fresh from launching its O2 Money financial-services brand last year, it is now moving into travel insurance. This is smart; O2 has realised that expanding beyond the already saturated UK mobile market is the best way to ensure the long-term future of its business.
Orange has already followed suit with a contactless credit card, and other operators are sure to jump on the bandwagon. Let's hope this prompts a break from the formulaic marketing strategies that have come to define mobile brands of late.
Lucy Barrett is on maternity leave.