How Vodafone maintained brand relevance in a crisis

While many businesses halted their marketing efforts at the height of the UK’s lockdowns, Vodafone took a different approach.

When many advertisers pressed pause on their marketing activity at the height of the UK’s Covid-19 crisis, Vodafone took a different tack. Drawing from the lessons of the 2008 financial crash, it realised that maintaining a brand voice during the crisis would be critical to its recovery.

At the same time, existing campaigns were no longer relevant. Vodafone’s original and agile response to this problem saw it win the 2021 Marketing Week Masters award for Media and Telecoms.

Working with its agency Ogilvy Vodafone drew on the new importance of connectivity. With millions forced to work remotely and kept at a distance from friends and family, the reliance on networks to keep them connected had never been more important. And so the Vodafone campaign, ‘Keeping the UK Connected,’ was born.

At one level was an emotive celebration of the brand’s role in maintaining this connectivity, with its ‘Come Together’ TV advert. On another, the team focused more on the practicalities of what people could do and how they could help. The Dreamlab initiative facilitated this, allowing people to give over their smartphone’s unused processing power to help scientists develop treatments for the virus. The Great British Tech Appeal, meanwhile, encouraged people to donate old devices to children with no access.

One of the biggest successes of the campaign was its impact on driving up brand preference among non-users. Previously consideration of Vodafone among this non-user group had been stagnant at 22%, but following the campaign it rose by six percentage points to 28%. As a result, not only did the campaign produce an immediate uplift in sales, but generated positive sentiment more broadly, creating a halo effect around future campaigns.



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