Breaking the mould of branding

Marketers and brand experts are taking note of movement in the mobile phone industry that could ring in new ideas for their own company or end clients.

UK-based network operator Vodafone says it needs to find new ways of persuading its customers to make more and better use of their phones, and plans to do so by upgrading its image.

Mindful of its network of global rivals, the company this month launched a poster campaign as part of the first element of a worldwide initiative to attract consumers to 3G – third generation services.

Vodafone said its posters would be emblazoned in the UK, Netherlands and Australia and 13 other countries with a fresh slogan ‘Make the most of Now.’

Peter Bamford, the group’s head of marketing, said TV, newspaper and magazine adverts would accompany the slogan, credited as making a break from traditional mobile phone ads, which trumpet the benefits of the latest technology.

“We don’t view this as a campaign,” said Bamford, speaking to the Financial Times. “We view it as the launch of a 'creative framework' which sets out a different way of talking to our customers.”

Despite the non-campaign pledge, Vodafone has just under 2m 3G subscribers in Europe, reflective of the nascent market that analysts collectively think is still struggling to achieve the penetration and momentum that industry forecast.

This trend is not exclusive to Vodafone. But the provider believes its customers, many of whom seem content using second-generation (2G) phones, are still unaware of the benefits to be had via “communications on the go.”

Bamford says his marketing efforts have focussed on defining what people find attractive about mobile phones; so the obvious but initial ideas were ‘mobility’ and ‘personalisation.’

“The thing we’ve concentrated on however is the issue of time and the ability of a mobile phone to help people make the most of their time,” he said.

“’Now’ is the word we’ve focused on. Not in the sense of ‘do it now’ but in the sense of ‘make the most of now’.”

Detail on how this will be realised was reportedly scarce, yet Bamford admitted the strategy would not create new services, but rather it would promote and explain services available, or in the pipeline.

The slogan and its supporting formats are expected to be targeted specifically at young people, given 3G’s advantage of mobile media, such as photos and e-mail.

As rival phone companies like Orange and O2 seem to be half way through similar marketing upgrades, as the slogan,’ the future’s bright – the future’s Orange’ becomes less apparent, it remains to be seen whether Vodafone is pursuing the right course – breaking with its technical roots.

Mobile phone operators are encouraged to show empathy with customers, while resisting the need for complex tariff structures and bulky all-performing handsets, especially in their marketing pitch.

To the empathy end, Vodafone is already paying attention. Yesterday it unveiled a vending machine that dispenses £30 pay-as-go mobile phones, for people needing a phone in an emergency, either because of dead battery or simply a lost handset.

The new vending machines are locatable anywhere there is an electricity source, prompting the company’s retail head to suggest that they could potentially be found up a mountain, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Empathy permeates Vodafone’s latest release, given a supporting poster shows a relieved man in the middle of field raising his arms as he falls to his knees to embrace the mobile kiosk.

The man, seemingly desperate to use a phone, would potentially be offered the choice of three different Vodafone handsets, which are instantly available through the self-service machines.

Elsewhere in the branding world, the famous Pot Noodle is investing £10million on revamping its image upmarket.

From next year, the snack will contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives and lumps of powder that don’t dissolve will be no more, Marketing Week reports.

The attempt to take Pot Noodle upmarket will see ads once focused on students and sex scrapped for advertising targeting women and older consumers.

The revamp comes in the wake of the Sudan1 cancer scare that caused sales of Pot Noodle to plummet from its normal rate of four pots every second.

The Sun newspaper commented how Pot Noodle wants to turn into ‘Posh Noodle.’

“Perhaps every pot will come with a silver spoon,” added the paper's editorial leader.


28th October 2005

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