Will Vodafone’s marketing strategy work?

Vodafone’s new strategy to make its brand “more warm” and attract younger consumers could see it jeopardising its point of difference, brand experts warn.

Vodafone

The mobile operator is set to launch its biggest global ad campaign in four years, doing away with its “Make the most of now” strapline, for the new “Power to you” positioning. It is taking a different approach in the UK market to the rest of the world.

While globally a common brand ad will be used, the UK creative will feature red-headed people organising an event for themseves using the capabilities of its new web service Vodafone 360 which will launch at the end of October. However, both creatives will feature the “Power to you” strapline.

Vodafone global brand director David Wheldon says it wants to become one of the “most loved” brands in the world.

“It’s a bit of rethink of our role in people’s lives. A real intent to become more human, more warm, more approachable and take away some of the stuffy corporate image that we know particularly gets attached to us in the UK.”

Wheldon adds that it is hoping to attract more 20-something consumers. “You don’t want to be your dad’s brand in this category, neither do we want to be the Coca-Cola of mobile, which is all things to all people.”

But Value Engineers brand consultant Guy Grimsley says Vodafone has strong brand equity in the B2B space, particularly in the UK.

“While it does not want to be a ‘dad’s brand’, it risks losing some of that equity by pushing into the younger space where O2, Orange and T-Mobile already sit,” he says.

“Its differentiated strength is that it’s not currently fighting in the same space as the others.”

Moving Brands creative director James Bull says the new brand messaging risks sounding too similar to its competitors.

“The agenda among many clients has been ‘how can I be warmer?’, ‘how can I feel more accessible?’ Now it feels like it’s two years too late to have that voice. And Orange already says that,” he says.

“The question is, do people want a warmer and touchy feely message, or do they really just want better prices and services communicated in a better way?”

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