A view from Simon S Kershaw

CREATIVE STRATEGY: EE launches with big bucks, but no big bang

Occasionally, very occasionally, advertisers are well within their rights to do something that's really "out there".

Launching a bank with no high-street branches. Opening a new railway line from London to the continent. This is big, important stuff. First Direct's beguiling hyper-creativity and Eurostar’s feature film ‘Somers Town’ were justifiably out of the ordinary advertising.

Now we have EE and the launch of 4G. This technology has been trumpeted as something much more than 3Gplus. According to the hype, a 4G smartphone will transform your experience of the internet and downloads, while syncing and uniting all your digital devices seamlessly. Impressive if it’s true.

And even if it’s not as amazing as promised, one was entitled to expect a bit of a fanfare for 4G.  How did EE and their agency go about it?  Well, have a look for yourself at the video.

It can’t just be me being the grumpy old man of adland. This TV commercial is distinctly underwhelming. The idea, if we can even call it that, consists of hijacking Kevin Bacon’s renowned connectivity.

If you’ve never seen Mr Bacon on the big screen, you’ve been living in a box for some years now. But lest the audience is in any doubt, the actor has to say ‘Kevin Bacon, Hollywood A-lister’. Now we all know that EE wrote a big cheque for their lead performer. But to what effect?

Our hero starts off much in the manner of Robert Carlyle in the Johnnie Walker ad, striding towards us, monologuing about the famous whisky. But the ad then drifts off into a series of encounters with punters using their new 4G devices, as Bacon explains the various features of the technology. 

If this is starting to sound like a product brochure made into an ad, well, I wouldn’t argue. It’s not an awful piece of communication. But it lacks excitement or wit. And it certainly has nothing you’d describe as innovative (after all, Virgin Media launched its new service employing the talents of Uma Thurmann). 

Coincidentally, when preparing this review, I happened to walk past a new EE retail outlet. And it’s like any other phone shop, really.

Now that 4G is officially launched, will EE let their hair down and give us some advertising to match the wonder of the newest network?

Simon S Kershaw is a creative consultant and a former creative director at Craik Jones