Giffgaff: Online ads don’t make a brand famous

TV advertising and sponsorship has helped build it into the “ballsy brand it is today”.

Giffgaff believes TV advertising has been key to building its brand awareness but admits it still has a “big fuck-off mountain” to climb to compete with its big spending rivals.

In an unsurprising nod to the power of TV’s effectiveness at the inaugural Big TV Fest on Thursday (8th February) – hosted by ITV, Channel 4, Sky and Thinkbox – Giffgaff’s head of advertising said she was naive to think the mobile operator could achieve the brand awareness it has now through online platforms alone.

Speaking to a specially assembled group of media of planners and marketers in a heated teepee deep in Blackwood Forest, Abi Pearl explained how TV advertising and sponsorship helped build the Telefonica-owned mobile network into the “ballsy brand it is today”.

“Back then we thought we didn’t need TV and that we could just make content that would go viral and make us famous,” Pearl said. “That didn’t happen at all. We were wrong.”

Giffgaff is currently one of 59 mobile networks available in the UK in a market that is constantly growing. And faced with competition from the big players with budgets that allow them to “outspend [giffgaff] by a country mile”, Pearl said gaining cut-through on TV is an ongoing challenge.

“We’ve got a big mountain to climb and it’s a big fuck-off mountain,” she explained.

“It’s like wanting to be Beyoncé but with the budget of a busker. We have to be blind to the fact we don’t have the money. Whether you’re spending £1 or £10m, it’s still money and you’ve got to think of the best way to do it.”

Pearl admitted GiffGaff used to be “anti-TV”, but said the majority of its media spend now goes on TV, online video or outdoors – “especially buses” – rather than on “hard to justify” platforms that lack sufficient metrics.

“It it’s very hard to justify the cost of Snapchat versus the measurement you get back,” she added. “So you might reach millions of people but it’s one day and it’s just cost you £110,000, which could be a spot on Gogglebox on Friday night.”

While Giffgaff’s marketing strategy does include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, Pearl echoes the voices of many in the media industry and said there needs to be better measurement systems in place.

“Things like Snapchat ads for us give us just as good reach and are far more cost effective, but I could do with some measurement on something I just spent £15,000 on,” she concluded.

“It’s so hard to quantify why you should or shouldn’t do something without seeing it on your tracker all the time.”

Latest from Marketing Week

NOT REGISTERED? IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here