This month (June) BT Mobile launched handsets to go with its contracts, as well as a new ad campaign featuring movie star Alec Baldwin.
Dan Ramsay, the consumer MD at BT Mobile told Marketing Week “we always planned to extend BT Mobile into handsets, which is a bigger part of the market.”
Ramsay said the company decided against moving into the handset market earlier due to the dynamics of running a handset business being “quite different” to the dynamics of running a sim-only one.
“It is a lot more difficult to run a handset business but we have been really focused on the mobile market with the acquisition of EE. We wanted to establish BT mobile as a brand first and foremost rather than going right out and covering the entire market all at once.”
The brand says it has been attentive to demographics and is offering the latest phones to cater to consumer demand. “You only need to look at the queues outside an Apple store to discover this,” he said.
Star names are also being used to appeal to a more “dynamic” audience. The company has used actors Rebel Wilson and Ryan Reynolds in the past and the latest added to the mix is Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin.
Ramsay says that the use of celebrities is a “good way to make BT Mobile look like a more dynamic brand, younger and more appealing”.
While EE also uses star names, Ramsay says that this is where that similarity ends. Baldwin is not intended to be BT’s version of Kevin Bacon and there won’t necessarily be a long term association. Ramsay also says it isn’t a new approach from the brand as the company has always tried to be“light hearted”, with past celebrities including comedian Maureen Lipman and actor Bob Hoskins.
“In some ways, from a mobile point of view we are much smaller than EE, they have much more experience and consumer awareness, due to being in the space a lot longer”
Dan Ramsay, MD,BT
“We’ve got a broader range of messages and a more diverse range of products than I expect EE have got. And therefore using a range of celebrities has worked well for us,” Ramsay said.
BT Mobile is aiming its campaigns at current customers, particularly with the handset discounts, as it hopes to appeal to its seven million customers already signed to broadband, something it describes as an “attractive base to sell into.”
“While we do sell to customers that don’t have broadband with us, the bulk we sell to do already,” he said.
However, Ramsay says that though BT Mobile and EE still have their differences, the two brands work closely, with “regular dialogue on strategies.”
“In some ways, from a mobile point of view we are much smaller than EE, they have much more experience and consumer awareness, due to being in the space a lot longer,” Ramsay confirmed.
Michael Quirke, a senior strategist at Brand Union thinks, that though it will take a while, in the future the companies offers can converge. “We can get the best of EE on mobile, and BT’s dominance in broadband, and hopefully we’ll see an increase in service culture that makes this new BT brand worthwhile,” he told Marketing Week.
“It’ll be interesting to see where BT goes next, especially with technology companies like Google and Facebook approaching, and whether it can pull anything out of the bag a little more surprising to convince people that, beyond a standard low-tariff telco, it has something more unique and appealing to offer.”