Orange trains users to improve phone ability

Orange has applied a heavy dose of irony to a £10 million consumer branding campaign aiming to demonstrate its commitment to helping customers make the most of their phones.

The "Orange Training Academy" campaign, the first consumer branding push from Mother since it won the account last year, breaks this week and includes five 48- and nine-sheet poster executions, ten press ads, and radio and direct marketing activity alongside television work.

The TV ads will run nationally for two months, focusing heavily on ITV and Channel 4. Media planning and buying is through Media Planning Group.

According to the vice-president of brand marketing, Jeremy Dale, the creative premise resulted from research that showed 80 per cent of people only used 10 per cent of their phone's functionality.

Dale added that Orange had retrained its retail staff to teach consumers how to use their phones as well as sell them, and has set up a dedicated helpline and website for Orange customers to use. "This campaign is all about giving customers tailored advice and training them to use their phones. Phones aren't complicated, they're misunderstood," Dale said.

The first two 30-second ads feature a spoof documentary charting the progress of a group of adult students being taught phone skills by a 13-year-old professor called Dylan. Heading up a team of specialist phone trainers, Dylan uses a number of unconventional teaching methods to encourage his class to get to grips with their phones and their capabilities.

One spot, "marriage guidance", features the class wrestling with the conundrum of customers keeping up with the football while also keeping their partners happy. One trainee suggests signing up for match updates via text message, but Dylan also suggests setting up a separate line for his wife, enabling him to screen out other callers, but still speak to her during the match. The ads' strapline, "Don't worry people. You'll get there", is supplemented with the training helpline number.

The Dylan character also features in the press and poster activity.

Dale said: "Mobile phones aren't useful unless people know how to use them. The 'learn' initiative is all about demonstrating in a fun and practical way just how committed Orange and the phone trainers are to helping people get the most out of phones."

The ads were written and art directed by Mother, with the TV work directed by Stacy Wall through 2am Films. The campaign follows on from Mother's "hard-nosed businessman" push, designed to promote Orange's deals for business, and a cinema spot for picture messaging.

Mother won the Orange account in October 2002, taking over from Lowe, which had worked on the brand since January 2001. WCRS created the previous strapline, "The future's bright, the future's Orange", for the company's launch in 1995.