Three plugs pay-as-you-go with pug dog

Three is following up its popular dancing Shetland Pony ads with a spot featuring a real-life pug dog wearing a knitted party hat in a campaign that marks the first time the mobile operator has spent significantly on promoting its pay-as-you-go deals.

The humorous “Pay as You Go just got serious” ad highlights Three’s “321” price-plan, which undercuts – and in some cases significantly – its competitors by offering calls at 3p per minute, texts at 2p per minute and mobile internet at 1p per megabyte.

The campaign was created by Wieden + Kennedy and will run across TV, VOD, outdoor, print and digital.

The launch of the ad, which debuts on TV tonight (8 Aug) comes at a pivotal time for the UK mobile industry, with O2 and Vodafone preparing to join EE in launching 4G tariffs to customers at the end of this month. All of the “big three” operators are already in the process of significantly upping their marketing spend as they look to acquire new customers or upgrade existing ones to their lucrative 4G tariffs, which are typically priced at £5 or more than the average 3G tariff.

O2 also uses a dog in its current brand advertising campaign – although the dog in question is actually a cat that wishes he was canine. Vodafone has yet to reveal its 4G advertising plans, while EE is continuing with its Kevin Bacon push.

Three, meanwhile, does not plan to switch on its 4G signal until the end of this year and has long communicated its 3G signal is already “ultra fast”. In February the company announced it would not charge a premium for existing customers looking to upgrade to 4G.

The latest multi-million pound marketing effort from Three forms part of a wider strategy to place a renewed focus on the brand rather than purely emphasising the value of its tariffs in its communications.

In March, when the brand launched the Fleetwood Mac-soundtracked Shetland Pony ad, marketing director Tom Malleschitz told Marketing Week the strategy aimed to turnaround a “lack of brand consideration” for Three among the “early majority segment” – people who want smartphones but are not necessarily early adopters.