Phones 4U Scary Girl

The retailer is rolling out a £5.2m integrated horror-themed marketing campaign, its biggest ever pre-Christmas media spend, with the tagline “Missing Our Deals Will Haunt You”.

Caspar Nelson, Phones 4U head of brand and communications, says previous Phones 4U marketing has “over indexed” on the younger end of its target audience – 18 to 24-year-olds – but the new campaign is widening that demographic to include people up to 34.

He adds: “We feel the ‘value’ message has a wider audience in these times and the creative we’ve used will appeal to people from the Xbox gamer to an older person who remembers the classic horror films.”

The campaign’s TV spots include horror themed 30-second films, which will be preceded by a series of five “subliminal messaging-style” 2-second blip TV ads, featuring a scary girl character, designed as teasers to evoke conversation around the new creative.

The spots have a Clearcast rating of post-7.30pm, ensuring it does not break any CAP advertising codes about harming children.

Nelson says the ads are intended to “build tension” rather than scare people, despite the fact that they are horror themed.

“We are punctuating the horror genre with Phones 4U humour [including the classic hand gestures], but it’s intended to build tension rather than scare. The Phones 4U brand is irreverent and off the wall, so we wanted to keep that messaging,” he adds.

Peugeot had an ad banned earlier this year by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), after a child was scared by the spot during a Peppa Pig programme on the Nick Jr channel.

Phones 4U was also censured earlier this month by the ASA for featuring an image of a grinning Jesus Christ giving a thumbs-up sign in an ad that was deemed disrespectful to the Christian faith.