Rivals prepare marketing push to thwart 4G

Vodafone and O2 are preparing a marketing assault from the end of the month as they look to deflect some of the attention around the launch of EE’s 4G network to some of their respective existing propositions.

O2 Priority Sports
O2 is set to ramp up marketing for its Priority proposition.

EE’s 4G network – the first of its kind in the UK – launches on 30 October and will be backed by tens of millions of pounds of marketing investment, including the rebadging of all the company’s Orange and T-Mobile stores to become EE branded.

Rival mobile operators will not be able to launch their own 4G networks until “next spring” at the earliest, a date that was brought forward by the Department of Culture Media and Sport this month but still means EE will have an early advantage by being exclusively first to market.

EE was given the green light by Ofcom to launch 4G months earlier than its rivals by using its existing 2G spectrum, which was met with criticism from O2 and Vodafone, who claimed the move was anti-competitive.

Vodafone is preparing to double the amount it originally intended to spend on promoting its “Red” unlimited calls and text tariffs, using its Star Wars brand ambassador Yoda.

The company is initially thought to have invested about £5m in ad spend for the campaign, which was due to run until the end of October. “Phase two” of the campaign is now thought to run until early December, alongside Vodafone’s other pay as you go Christmas campaigns, which will also coincide with EE’s marketing activity.

Meanwhile, O2 is understood to be increasing its marketing spend around its loyalty proposition during the period, which includes its Priority Moments deals app, early access to gigs and events tickets and the recently launched Priority Sports, which gives customers early access to Nike products and events.

James Tagg, mobile services director at mobile marketing and communications agency Mobext, told Marketing Week EE’s rivals have taken a “spoiler tactic” marketing approach as they hope to retain their existing customers who could be tempted by the new network’s high browsing speeds.

He adds: “Last week it was announced that the other networks will launch their 4G services by end of next summer meaning they will do all they can to stop EE recruiting 4G hungry consumers ahead of their own launches. It will probably be quite a grubby fight.”

Three is not thought to be increasing spend until the traditional pre-Christmas marketing period.

A spokesman says: “We will continue to develop the story of our network and the benefits it brings to consumers.”

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