Vodafone outspends O2 on marketing to boost 4G demand

Vodafone and O2 have switched on their 4G networks for the first time today (29 August), but the former company is set to spend considerably more on advertising in the opening weeks of launch as it looks to improve current levels of consumer demand for its services.

Vodafone 4G outdoor advert Yoda

Vodafone kicks off its multi-million pound 4G advertising campaign today (29 August), featuring long-term brand ambassador Star Wars character Yoda. 

TV, out of home, press and digital ads will highlight Vodafone’s 4G content deals with Sky Sports and Spotify, carrying the strapline “May the 4G be with you”. 

The TV ad airs from 1 September and features two men so engrossed with their phones they are unaware of the dramatic events unfolding behind them – meaning Yoda has to use his Jedi powers to save them from harm.

Vodafone says the out of home bus shelter element of the campaign – which will be heavily weighted in its 4G first switch-on city London – will be “the largest in history” and “the most comprehensive saturation of a city to date.

The ads will also feature Vodafone’s new global brand identity, “Vodafone Power of Red”, which was created by The Brand Union. The creative was handled by RKCR, while OMD and Kinetic were responsible for media planning and buying. Spend on the campaign is understood to be in excess of £10m.

Tonight (29 August) O2 is marking its 4G switch across London, Leeds and Bradford on with a gig in London from pop artist Plan B, which will be live streamed on outdoor digital media sites at Kings Cross Station, Victoria Station and The Wall at Westfield Shepherd’s Bush. Throughout the day O2 staff are also demoing 4G at each of the three locations and Central London O2 stores.

O2, which is currently running its Be More Dog brand advertising campaign, does not plan to launch its full 4G above the line activity until later in the year. Like Vodafone, O2 is also hopes to differentiate its 4G services by its content offering which includes music, sport and gaming add-ons

YouGov BrandIndex data suggests consumers are currently more likely to opt for O2 contracts than those from Vodafone. O2’s “purchase intent” score was 9.1 on 28 August (the most recently available data) compared with Vodafone’s score of 6 – although this accounts for all the companies’ services, not just 4G.

O2’s “recommendation” score – a measure of whether a consumer would recommend a product or service to friends or family – is also higher than Vodafone’s ranking. O2 currently has a recommendation score of 16, above Vodafone’s 6.8, which also falls below EE’s score of 9.4.

Three, meanwhile, will not switch on its 4G network until December, although it will begin to raise awareness about how customers can make the switch in its marketing before this time. It will initially launch its 4G service in London, Birmingham and Manchester and the company aims for it to be available in 50 cities by 2014.

Three announced last year it will not charge any premium for customers to upgrade to 4G – but this also means it will not be launching a complementary content package like its rivals.

The operator is currently running a campaign to promote its 3G pay as you go tariffs, starring a pug dog called Mabel.

EE stole a march on its rivals by launching its 4G services late last year, after Ofcom gave the operator the green light to run a 4G network on its existing spectrum rather than waiting for the outcome of the 4G spectrum auction.

The operator has since run several major advertising campaigns featuring brand ambassador Kevin Bacon. It is running two co-current TV ads featuring the actor, one promoting its network speed and the other highlighting the “shed load of data” available on Orange pay as you go.

Yesterday (28 August) Accrington in Lancashire became the 100th town to receive 4G signal from EE.

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