‘We are going for it’: Three launches its biggest brand campaign

A new marketing campaign and sponsorship of Chelsea football club aim to position Three as leading the charge in 5G, while bringing some fun to a “dull” sector.

Mobile network Three is launching its biggest brand campaign to-date as it looks to boost consideration of the brand around the rollout of 5G networks.

The ‘Real 5G’ campaign, created by Wieden+Kennedy London, is an evolution of its ‘Phones Are Good’ positioning and aims to “celebrate” the rollout of 5G mobile services. It aims to show the opportunity of the new technology, showcasing uses such as gaming, 3D dating and faster download speeds.

The TV campaign, set to air from tomorrow (27 February) continues the wormhole theme from its previous campaign but this time jumps forward in time, rather than backwards. From a bleak news report on the state of the UK today, it transports the viewer to futuristic 5G future showing drone post boxes and a digital Big Ben, as well as a holographic version of Tinder, commercial spaceflight and a team of robots winning the football World Cup for England.

The TV ad will be supported by outdoor and video-on-demand, as well as social media, in-store and experiential activity.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Three’s CMO Shadi Halliwell says she wanted to create a campaign that is optimistic and can help restore a lost sense of pride in Great Britain. There are a number of British references in the campaign, from the use of the phrase “hang on to your crumpets” to the theme tune to The Bill and Countdown.

She also wants to get the message out that Three has double the spectrum of other mobile operators, the first time it has been able to compete with rivals on this.

“We’ve never had the spectrum to do a big network shout, now we have double the spectrum of anyone else. We have the gold standard 5G, which the other guys don’t have. It is time for us to take a giant leap in leading the 5G world,” she explains.

“5G is not just faster 4G, it is a totally different tech. [5G is] driverless cars, remote surgery, 3D dating, education where you can learn about the pyramids by going to them in virtual reality. This tech is completely different to anything we have had in the past.”

Three has been emboldened by the success of its previous campaign, which Halliwell claims was “very well received” and led to increases in key metrics around brand consideration, NPS and followers on social media. The latter is important because Three wants to be “having interesting conversations” with its customers, “demonstrating what we do rather than putting a direct response ad on Instagram saying ‘here’s a new handset’,” says Halliwell.

Consideration will be key for Three with this campaign too, particularly outside London where the brand is not as strong. According to YouGov BrandIndex, Three has a consideration score of 10.1 across the UK but 11.7 in London, behind the big three operators EE, O2 and Vodafone.

We are trying to behave a bit like a fashion brand. [We want to be seen as] less of a utility.

Shadi Halliwell, Three

Three’s ambition is to become the biggest network for 5G customers but it faces a tough challenge to do that. The brand claims it will have the fastest 5G network in the UK, with peak mobile speeds up to twice as fast as rivals because it holds more spectrum.

However, it faces a challenge to compete with the scale and financial power of its competitors. That is why, for Halliwell, being a brand with a personality and that takes risks with its creative is key to achieve stand out.

It also has a media strategy that means the campaign will “drip all year” and use social media to engage and tell stories about what the brand is doing.

“The way we dripped our media didn’t work for us, we want to be more consistent. There will be peaks of broadcast but it will be dripping everywhere all the time,” states Halliwell.

“We are trying to behave a bit like a fashion brand. [We want to be seen as] less of a utility, we want people to enjoy [this campaign]. [Networks] can be dull and boring, talking about megabits – who even knows what a megabit is! We want people to dream of a more optimistic future and have some fun.”

Three is also hoping to boost brand awareness, which is at 83% in the UK compared to 93% for Vodafone and 92% for O2. With that in mind, it has recently signed a three-year deal to become the shirt sponsor of Chelsea across its men’s, women’s and youth teams from 1 July 2020. The deal includes plans to make Stamford Bridge a 5G-enabled stadium.

“We need a platform for brand awareness and football has never been more popular. It’s a huge platform to get our brand out there and engage customers,” says Halliwell.

“This is the big platform that says we are not number four in the market, we are a premium, going-for-it brand.”

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