Last month, when Vodafone launched its Gold Rush campaign for the release of the Samsung Galaxy S5, StopPress commented on how fortunate James Rolleston was to not have been given the same sadistic treatment as that thrown at Guy Williams for Telecom’s promotion of the snazzy phone. However, this observation may have been slightly pre-emptive because Vodafone’s latest spot, which although not resorting to physical abuse, will likely cause the actor a lingering sense of shame that can only come with seeing oneself—at primetime every night—with a bowl cut.
Featuring a recently made-over Rolleston, the new 60-second spot, which first aired on Sunday night, relies on the premise that being on-trend in a digital world means that you need to be connected at all times. Missing a Facebook message, a friend’s tweet or a news report could result in being left behind in an increasingly fast-moving world.
From an early conversation between Rolleston and his friend Wade, the spot quickly shifts into hyperbolic over-drive by showing Mark Sainsbury, Warriors players, Jude Dobson and the entire US Army all donning Friar Tuck’s hairstyle of choice.
And while the new ad does tend toward the outrageous, Vodafone’s consumer director Matt Williams says that the premise is based on the real-life tendency of people to share their thoughts via social media during major events.
“Events like Beyonce’s Auckland concert, All Blacks’ matches, and the America’s Cup bring out our sharing side, and we see huge spikes in data usage when our customers capture and share these moments – at the heart of this is the SuperNet,” he says.
According to statistics collated by Vodafone, fans downloaded 20,449 megabytes of data during Beyonce’s Auckland concert—the equivalent of roughly 204 albums.
The idea to give such an exaggerated representation of the spread of a trend was spawned in the creative department at FCB and then brought to life by the production company Robber's Dog.
FCB executive creative director Regan Grafton says that the new ad aims to showcase the utility of Vodafone’s SuperNet offering.
"Not being up with the play is a fear we all have. This spot dramatises this insight by showing the consequence of not being on the Vodafone SuperNet. With connectivity on a super-reliable network being so important, we thought a worldwide bowl-cut phenomenon was a great way to show off all of the aspects of the Vodafone network. And who knows, bowl cuts might actually take off."
These sentiments were echoed by Williams, who drew attention to the extent of Vodafone’s network.
“We know how important being connected is to our customers—whether on the go with 4G, at home with Ultra Fast Broadband or in business—and we’ve tried to bring this to life in this ad,” he says. “The breadth and superiority of the Vodafone Super Network is shown through scenes of Kiwis using the SuperNet to stay connected to the things they love in an engaging and funny way.”
The so-called “breadth and superiority” of Vodafone’s offering is most pronounced in terms of its 4G network, which remains the biggest in New Zealand (Telecom only offers 4G in parts of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, while 2degrees, which is currently trialling the service in Auckland, only plans to introduce it on a wider scale in July).
Given that the other two networks are likely to eventually catch up, Vodafone seems keen to capitalise on its point of difference while it can, especially since there’s a data-usage buck to be made from it.
Statistics from Vodafone suggest that 62 percent of Kiwis use video streaming websites more since upgrading from 3G, 4G users stream four times more content than 3G users, 24 percent of 4G users access social media more than 20 times a week and 44 percent of 4G users use their mobiles as portable hot spots so they can access the internet on their tablets or laptops. And this all translates into higher data usage, which in turn gives Vodafone a significant revenue stream.