The telco that will soon be formerly known as Telecom has launched a new campaign to announce that it is now offering residential customers unlimited broadband data plans. And while this might seem like a smart move to separate its offering from its competitors and potentially attract new clients, the Saatchi & Saatchi-created 'Giganaire' TVC used to relay the message has divided public opinion, with some describing the spot as annoying, cringe-worthy and racist while others say it's brilliant, hilarious and entertaining.
Whether for good or bad reasons, the ad has gotten people talking and this has led to a YouTube clip of the TVC tallying up over 20,000 views (at the time of writing) since it was first posted online.
"Launching the Unlimited Broadband Data plans was a big moment for us, and we wanted a big campaign to communicate it to customers," says Telecom's chief operating officer Jason Paris. "We thought it was fitting to do something different enough that it made New Zealanders sit up and take notice, while having a bit of fun at the same time."
A release from Saatchi says that the term 'Giganaire' was coined by creative director Slade Gill, who defines it as "someone rolling in data or gigabytes".
“No matter who you are, or where you live, access to more data leaves you feeling super flush," he says. "It’s the best kind of freedom. So we thought we’d play off that insight, using a genre that is synonymous with flaunting your wealth and living it up," says Gill.
“With content-rich applications like Spotify, on-demand and Skype now becoming life essentials, access to data has become a modern day form of keeping up with the Joneses.”
The rapid increase of digital consumption in terms of on-demand viewing and the streaming of content—via legal and illegal means—has in turn resulted in an increased need for broadband. So, in an effort to meet this growing demand, Telecom has now launched a variety of unlimited broadband data plans range across all data speeds.
And while this might be a reasonable progression in terms of what Telecom is offering the Kiwi consumer, the means chosen to deliver the message of the new offer tends toward the bizarre.
"The central idea in the campaign is that New Zealanders are doing more and more online, and as a result, data is the new ‘rich’ for them – it’s the thing that people increasingly want from us. To celebrate this idea of excess around data, we chose to parody a genre that traditionally celebrates excess more generally in life," says Paris.
Given that Telecom has been targeting the 18-to-35 market throughout the course of this year, this approach appears to be an attempt to increase its share on this part of the market. However, Paris says this isn't the case.
"We think the [campaign] has universal appeal, just like the unlimited broadband data product itself. The characters in the ad range in ages from kids to grandparents and the main character is a dad in his mid 30s. And the genre is one that’s been around for a very long time and crosses demographics."
While the ad might be pitched at a universal target market, the sense of humour underlining the TVC isn't shared by everyone and some social media commenters have hopped onto their digital soapboxes to slate the campaign for achievinglittle beyond annoying viewers.
Paris has however taken the negative commentary on the chin and played down its significance by saying that it comes with the territory when working for the telco giant.
"Telecom is brand that people feel strongly about – that came through very clearly when we announced we were changing our name. It’s great that some people love the campaign, but like anything a bit different, we knew some people wouldn’t take to it. That’s totally fine – we respect people have different opinions on these things. And from our perspective the fact that people are talking about it is a good thing."
Although Telecom's identity as a 'hated incumbent' might serve as valid rationale underpinning some of the negative commentary, there were also a few comments posted on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube that suggested that the ad stepped close to the line of racial insensitivity due to its over-reliance on stereotypes usually attributed to hip-hop culture. And when it comes to these comments, the 'hated incumbent' argument isn't applicable.
Paris dismisses claims of racial insensitivity and attributes such sentiments to a misinterpretation of the satirical nature of the campaign.
"We think this genre transcended cultural and racial lines years ago – what we’re doing is holding a mirror up to pop culture, and having some fun with it. We are absolutely not attempting to draw on racial stereotypes and the vast, vast majority of comments I’ve seen on social media about the campaign show people get that and understand is simply a light-hearted parody."
Those who find the campaign annoying or offensive will however have to become accustomed to its ubiquity, because it has also been launched via YouTube pre-rolls, Ooh outdoor adverts and other online promotions.
Client: Telecom New Zealand
Chief Operating Officer of Telecom Retail: Jason Paris
Communications Manager: Daimler Teves
Communications Executive: Nikora Walters
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
Executive Creative Director: Antonio Navas
Creative Director: Slade Gill
Creative Group Head: Brad Collett
TV Producer: Anna Kennedy
Business Director: Ben Fielding
Account Director: Anastasia Potter
Studio Manager: Tias Somers
Senior Designer: Rob Flynn
Production Company: Curious
Director: Robin Walters
Producer: Dan Higgins
DOP: Chris Mauger
Editor: Luke Haigh
Grade: Pete Ritchie
Online: Mike Robinson
Music: Manu Walters & Eden Jouavel
Mastering: Peter Van DerFluit, Manu Walters, Eden Jouave
Sound Studio: Liquid Studios
Sound Design: Craig Matuschka
Casting: Catch Casting