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‘Tis the season of giving, and for many brands that means giving back to the community — with many having done it tough over the past few years. This virtue formed the strategy behind both O2 and Vodafone’s Christmas campaigns in 2021, with each brand communicating their charitable undertakings.
Armed with a similar insight around the importance of online connectivity (something which has taken on even greater significance over the last couple of years), both brands attempted to convey that they’d be donating data to those in need this Christmas. From O2’s agency, VCCP:
“Over the last 18 months in particular the internet has kept many of us connected to friends, family, entertainment and work. With Christmas being a time when connection is more important than ever, we’re proud that this campaign is supporting the National Databank in donating data to those who need it. That’s the true spirit of Christmas in my eyes.”
While the brief for each campaign would’ve likely been near-identical, the creative executions were very different — O2 going down a more cinematic route leveraging its animated mascot, ‘Bubl’, while Vodafone took an approach more befitting of the season.
Which creative was more effective? We put them to the test using our 3 C’s framework:
O2 brought to life messaging around ‘connecting the disconnected’ in a more captivating and fun-loving way. The story, centered around the adorable ‘Bubl’ army stumbling door-to-door gifting data to those in need, was found amusing.
Conversely, Vodafone struggled to elicit the same emotional response. While the modern rendition of ‘Here Comes Santa Claus’ was enjoyed, the story featuring people travelling to Vodafone stores and donating their old sim cards was found underwhelming in comparison.
While Vodafone was able to create a reasonable level of synergy with the brand by the resolve taking place in a Vodafone store, O2 was again much stronger in this respect. We’ve spoken time and time again about the tremendous advantage afforded to brands with mascots, most recently in our piece on ALDI’s increasingly effective ‘Kevin the Carrot’. The main benefits they offer relate to acting as a shortcut to the brand, and triggering instant emotions.
Even though it’s only been in existence for a little over 12 months, O2’s ‘Bubl’ is already proving to be a recognizable asset. In addition, making ‘Bubl’ the hero subsequently gave the brand an integral role in the story, ensuring positive memories were linked to O2.
Triggering feelings of warmth, and being perceived as “doing good”, is of particular importance for both telcos — who are having to work hard to offset significant underlying negativity toward them.
For Vodafone, the reflections which showed each person dressed in a Santa Claus outfit — equating their efforts to a universally-recognized symbol of generosity — was missed by the vast majority. This had two important consequences.
First, the colors of Santa’s outfit are synonymous with Vodafone, inhibiting a stronger brand connection from being formed. Secondly, by instilling a sense that people’s acts were comparable to that of Santa, it could’ve helped trigger a stronger emotional response — and ultimately resulted in greater likelihood to act.
With a likely identical brief, two different executions were created, and two very different outcomes achieved — one a top 30th percentile performer, the other sitting in the bottom 30th percentile. This demonstrates the power of creativity to give brands, on a pound-for-pound basis, a disproportionate advantage over their competition.
While the charitable efforts of both brands were received in a similarly positive way, O2 got a leg-up on Vodafone through its on-going investment in a character/mascot. Coupled with a cute and playful production, the intended messaging was conveyed in a more fun and recognizable way — ultimately making O2’s creative work much harder than Vodafone’s.