Media: Strategy Analysis - T-Mobile takes ambient approach

Brand: T-Mobile U-Fix

Client: T-Mobile

Brief: Raise awareness of the launch of the U-Fix proposition

Target audience: A "bullseye" audience of 18- to 22-year-olds plus a

broader audience of all mobile phone users

Budget: £10 million

AGENCIES

Media: Nigel Robinson and Anna Berry at MediaCom

Creative: Saatchi & Saatchi

Bar and club media: Admedia

Outdoor buying: Posterscope

STRATEGY MediaCom was tasked with developing a strategy for T-Mobile's U-Fix product: a mix of pre-pay and contract tariffs that enables users to set the amount they wish to spend each month at either £15 or £25.

Predictability was the key insight underpinning the creative work after research showed that young people were frustrated by the large variations in their monthly bills with fixed contracts; that they yearned for a more consistent tariff.

The media agency also added the insight that the majority of users don't use the phone while watching TV, so in addition to a broadcast strategy, it attempted to enhance this by trying to create a "social currency" to bring U-Fix to life through outdoor and ambient media.

This approach was also adopted because T-Mobile cannot compete with the television spend of rivals such as O2 and Orange.

As a result, MediaCom devised a strategy that supplemented a traditional broadcast campaign to support the T-Mobile brand with more tightly targeted activity aimed at 18- to 22-year-olds.

EXECUTION

PTV MediaCom developed a dual strategy to air Saatchi & Saatchi's creative.

The first phase of the activity in April took a "broadcast" approach to reach a wider audience of mobile users with broad coverage. This will be followed by a more targeted strategy around particular youth programmes into May. The TV strategy had a twofold role: to raise awareness of U-Fix but also to act as a general awareness exercise for the overall T-Mobile brand.

POutdoor The agency took the decision to upweight outdoor in an attempt to reach young phone owners when they were most likely to be using their phones. The campaign employed 96-sheets across the country as well as a heavy investment in transport formats, such as bus sides.

PBar/club media T-Mobile is a frequent user of media in bars but for this campaign MediaCom and the specialist agency Admedia wanted to dominate the medium. They used more than a dozen new and existing formats to target the core audience of 18- to 22-year-olds. This involved a deal with the Luminar group of clubs and bars (Jumpin Jacks, Oceana and Chicago Rock Cafe are three of the chains it owns).

The campaign involved interactive sampling activity with promotional staff handing out two million scratchcards and lollipops encouraging consumers to enter a competition.

Each bar environment was branded from top to bottom, following the creative theme of predictability, from drinks coasters and the T-shirts the bar staff wore to talking panels in washrooms.

PPress Advertising ran in a mixture of national press and women's and men's weekly and monthly titles. Consecutive full-page ads ran in some national newspapers.

POnline Saatchis created a viral campaign based on the theme of predictability.

The viral encouraged viewers to supply a picture of themselves which was then aged electronically to show how the user would look in their old age. This was supported by banner ads, e-mail activity and texting.

RESULTS

The campaign is still running so it's too early for most results. However, the campaign in bars and clubs is expected to reach 13 million 18- to 22-year-olds during its four-week run.

THE VERDICT

Ivan Pollard, partner, The Ingram Partnership

I always struggle to separate out a strategy from a set of interesting tactics.

I used to have a classics teacher at my grammar school called Mr Aubrey Scrase who was as strange and eccentric as his name might have you believe.

However, he was a brilliant teacher and when asked by a youth (me) what was the use of learning a 3,000 -year-old dead language, he replied: "Etymology. Use this dead language, dear boy, to understand what live people are talking about today even if they don't know it themselves."

So, to the etymology of "strategy". Apparently, it comes from two Greek words - "stratos", meaning an army and "agei", meaning to lead. So strategy is the art of conducting a campaign and manoeuvring your forces to victory.

Is this work from MediaCom consistent with Mr Scrase's view of the world?

I hate to be a killjoy but it doesn't quite do it for me. Sure, it is a set of neat tactics. Sure, it is one way of manoeuvering the forces. It is solid, it is obvious, but it is not brimming over with invention, creativity, insight or smart thinking. I don't think it has enough about it to warrant calling it artistic.

I like the use of outdoor to get people when they are using their phones.

And I do like the use of bar media in these ways. The online is neat and the press is workmanlike. I am a big fan of praising stuff that works, but great strategy comes from pushing stuff to work as hard as it can and I think MediaCom could have gone further.

I think there may have been a few tricks missed in connecting with this audience and Saatchi & Saatchi's creative leap. Why wasn't the press related to predictability? There are loads of opportunities in newspapers and magazines. Think horoscopes, sports results and weather. Why wasn't there more stuff on the street in unusual places? Think vans, think traffic lights, think bus timetables. Why wasn't there more stuff about the predictability of the things that really matter to this audience? Think "does he like me?", think "will she think I am a dork?"

I think this is a campaign that did an OK job. It marshalled its forces to mount a campaign, but I don't think its tactics added up to produce an artful strategy. A good enough job but it could have gone so much further.

Mr Scrase would have thrown the chalk duster over this one.

SCORE 3/5.