EE rethinks role of Kevin Bacon in advertising

Actor makes brief appearance in latest ad.

EE: no dressing up for Bacon in latest ad
EE: no dressing up for Bacon in latest ad

EE has launched a campaign starring pop act Bastille to promote the brand’s 5G coverage, but a certain 1980s movie star seems to no longer occupy centre stage.

Created by Saatchi & Saatchi London as a follow-up to last year’s FA Cup spot, the ad shows unexpecting commuters across London, Liverpool and Edinburgh as they experience Bastille’s impromptu gig in Birmingham’s New Street station in real time via mixed-reality Nreal glasses.

It launches today (13 January) during Love Island on ITV2 and is also running in cinemas and on video-on-demand. 

The work was created by Kate Murphy, Marcus Pettersson, Cristiana Candido and Alice Marani, and directed by Henry Schofield through Caviar and Visualise.

With Kevin Bacon only landing a few seconds of airtime during the latest spot – most of which is spent putting sunglasses on to unexpecting travellers – EE has clarified the role of its quick-stepping spokesman.

"Kevin Bacon is definitely not being phased out," Pete Jeavons, director of marketing communications for EE and BT, told Campaign.

"What we've discovered is that we can use him in different ways, equally as effectively. It doesn't always have to be Kevin Bacon in the camera – he can open the ad and can close it, and have little moments in-between."

The Hollywood star has featured in EE's ads since the brand was launched in 2012 from the merger of T-Mobile and Orange, initially appeaing in a spot inspired by parlour game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon", based on the idea that anyone on Earth can be connected to Bacon (or, in fact, anyone else) in six steps or fewer.

Since then, Jeavons said Bacon has grown to become an "instantly recognisable" spokesman for the brand, from beating Jamie Oliver in a YouTube cook-off to dressing up as Britney Spears for EE’s first carrier tie-up with Apple.

However, the emergence of 5G has seen the brand focus more on experiential content, leaving less airtime for the intense fast-food vendor character Bacon assumed to promote EE’s iPhone 11 offer.

"This is as much about getting recognition of our brand as it is about the message that we are trying to convey," Jeavons explained.

"5G is ultimately going to change everything that we do, from driving to healthcare and everything in-between, so we're trying to show people practical examples of what 5G can enable."

On a brighter note, Jeavons maintained that EE's next spot might involve a more prominent role for Bacon, depending on "the creative challenge at hand".

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