‘Celebrity ambassadors must be like family or they won’t work’ says EE as it toasts Kevin Bacon

As EE debuts its latest multimillion pound campaign fronted by Hollywood actor Kevin Bacon, its marketing chief explains why the partnership works.

EE has launched a new above-the-line campaign that talks up the lengths it goes to ensure its customers get a 4G connection.

The lighthearted ad is fronted once again by Kevin Bacon, who travels the country under the guise of an EE engineer. He installs a 4G mast in the snowy mountains of Scotland and operates one of the phone network’s 4G-boosting drones, which it recently tested during a cricket match at the Oval. The campaign ties into EE’s mission statement to cover 95% of the UK landmass with 4G by the end of 2020.

READ MORE: EE scraps CMO role as BT insists it will keep the brand

EE first used the Hollywood actor back in 2012 and says it sees Bacon a “living personification” of its brand. Speaking to Marketing Week, Max Taylor, managing director of marketing at EE, says the deal works so well because it is grounded in collaboration.

He explains: “We are very keen for familiarity and we test Kevin with our key audiences regularly and he’s showing no signs of wear. In fact, he only gets stronger and stronger.

“Celebrity or brand ambassadors must feel like family and part of the team or it just doesn’t work and will look cheap. We collaborate closely with Kevin and regularly meet him to share ideas. We’ve spent a lot of time learning about who he is as a person as we want him to a be a long-term collaborator.”

Personalisation drive

The new TV ad, ‘We Go Further’, also features a cameo from Gogglebox star Scarlett Moffatt, who is seen enjoying a chicken kebab that’s delivered by a ‘Just Eat’ branded motorcycle.

This approach of letting an outside brand buy space within an EE ad is a ‘first’ and something Taylor says will continue should the experiment prove to be a success. He says EE customers will also receive special offers from Just Eat as part of the collaboration.

This campaign is also EE’s most targeted and personalised to date. The brand is using localised photography in 166 stores, localised ads in 29 regional locations and there will be 21,000 potential message combinations for direct customer communications.

The latter means EE will change messages on social media based on factors such as a consumer’s geographic location or whether they are towards the end of their mobile phone contract. “We want to really push our digital DNA and up our game on creativity and getting personalised messages out,” he adds.

An exclusive 20-second version of the campaign and a selection of seven-second edits will also run across digital platforms such as Snapchat. Taylor says there will be a particular focus on Snapchat as EE’s internal data shows Snapchat use grew among its customers by 28% in 2016 – a rate of growth that’s four times faster than Twitter.

BT’s ‘long term’ vision for EE

Last February, EE scrapped the CMO role as new owner BT rung in the changes. Taylor – who has been with the business for 15 years, stretching right back to the days of Orange – has helped this transition and led EE’s marketing as it combined its digital team with advertising, PR and sponsorship.

When BT acquired EE in a £12.5bn deal back in January 2016, there was speculation it would look to get rid of the EE brand altogether. However, Taylor insists that will never be the case and just over a year into his role as EE’s top marketer says the brand’s owner couldn’t be more supportive.

He concludes: “BT has a long-term focus in allowing EE to continue to build a separate identity. We are proud to be part of the BT Group and they are really enabling us to improve both our targeting and advertising.”

Hide Comments3 Show Comments
  • Phoebe Kingdon 31 Mar 2017 at 9:01 am

    Just East?

  • Joanna F.E 3 Apr 2017 at 5:55 am

    It’s interesting that companies are prone to stick with their celebrity spokesperson. EE seems to have found a reliable and relatable celebrity that truly represents the brand. I wish the article went into more detail about how EE sees that Kevin Bacon is the “living personification” of the brand. I do agree that the success of the ad relies on the collaboration between celebrity and brand. It seems natural and effortless and that Kevin Bacon belongs with the brand or can be imagined to actually use the brand in his personal time. After all, EE is a cellular device carrier. However, I can see the other side of this. It can just seem fake and disingenuous. Such as the T-Mobile ads that rotate celebrities each time they roll out a new feature to attract more consumers. Although it makes sense to try and tie a face to a new brand feature. EE is doing something that consumers like, and it’s proven successful since their first ad with Kevin Bacon began in 2012. It’s easier for consumers to recall a famous name and brand if it’s been consistent for 5 years. I wish I could have viewed the ad but it’s not available in my country. However, the article did a good job of describing what happened.

  • Joy jenkins 9 May 2017 at 9:54 am

    Here’s a story for you Kevin Bacon one to make you really proud of EE on the 10th of april I changed over from fibre to adsl, 2 weeks later and 3 BT engineers later no internet, after hours of ME ringing EE to be promised phone calls back and guess what not 1 phone call back, so i canceled my broadband and now waiting 3 WEEKS for refund, after being told twice it would be in my account within 6 days

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