Doing it backwards: Skinny takes telco Facebook crown with advocacy first, awareness next strategy—UPDATED

Leopards, as the old chestnut goes, find it quite difficult to change their spots. But since its launch, Skinny,
a sub-brand of Telecom that’s gunning for the youth-market, has gone
about things much differently than its big brother. And its modern
approach to marketing seems to be working quite well so far.

Coca-Cola’s chief marketing officer Joe Tripodi came out last year and said ‘awareness is fine, but advocacy will take your business to the next level‘.
And, judging by the evolution of the Skinny brand so far, the powers
that be obviously agree, because rather than use traditional broadcast
media to launch at the start of the year, it focused on events and
sponsorships for around six months, including the Wellington Sevens,
Rhythm & Vines and O-Week celebrations, and then ramped up the
digital and social media activity in an effort to create a community,
find the biggest influencers and eventually give some love to those who
were helping the brand.

Now the young whippersnapper is the most
liked telco in the country, recently overtaking 2degrees and closing in
on 85,000 likes on Facebook (Skinny wouldn’t comment on customer
numbers, but it is expected the first announcement will be made next
week in Telecom’s latest financial report). It has also found favour
with The Edge’s Vaughan Smith, who said it’s “like putting NOS in your
74 Cortina”).

Skinny uses Telecom’s XT network and the 20-odd strong team was led by Paul O’Shaunessy (despite a few attempts, he failed to get back to us for this story, and this probably explains why). Back in January, he told the NBR it
would have no ad agency and was focused on earned media. But Young
& Shand are doing the digital strategy and Facebook activation
and Saatchi & Saatchi recently launched a low-budget TV campaign
that has obviously taken a few cues from the viral zeitgeist and
features old stock footage, purposefully absurd voiceovers and a
paintball-firing Donnie Darko-style rabbit.

Youtube Video

Youtube Video

Youtube Video

Youtube Video

The Old Spice campaign is often held up as a gleaming example of the
power of social media, but it got a lot of its initial momentum with a
big TV campaign. The two mediums work well very together, of course,
with TV driving spikes in online traffic and social media and digital
offering more sustained growth. But the interesting thing is that Skinny
has done things the other way around, launching the brand with events
activation and Facebook and then following up with TV and traditional

As for the motivation behind the sub-brand, Telecom’s
old CDMA network is scheduled to be turned off at the end of July and
back in March, Telecom said around 639,000 of its mobile customers were
still on the network. So Skinny/Telecom is aiming to attract these
low-spending customers with cheap pricing ($4 a week for the ‘text bomb’
or a 600MB data plan for $8) that might help stop the flight of
customers to 2degrees and enable it to better compete for the young’uns
with Vodafone.

2degrees has already been involved in some
argy bargy with Telecom over Skinny, however, lodging a complaint to the
Commerce Commission about what it felt was the anti-competitive nature of Skinny’s SIM locking. But
the watchdog sided with Telecom on that one, in part because of a low
$30 break fee if customers want to get out of the contract.

Skinny’s wares were initially made available in Warehouse Stationery and Dick Smith, but online sales are now available.

UPDATE: Skinny got back to us.

Mobile is the new mobile service provider, focusing on the prepaid
mobile market with a big emphasis on 15 to 25 year old customers.

the weekend, after just four and a half months, Skinny became the most
liked Facebook site amongst all NZ telcos with over 85,000 fans. The
Facebook likes have been growing at a rate of 1000 – 2000 a day with
more than 35,000 of them talking about Skinny.

That’s been
achieved by generating our own content from events and engaging with
leaders from a number of youth culture tribes (boarders, motorsport,
music lovers, arts, etc).

“What’s made this so successful is that
it’s authentic stuff that celebrates fun, incredible skills and ‘living
Skinny’,” says John Chester, Skinny’s product and strategy manager. “The
second thing about Skinny is simplicity—having a simple sales message
($4/week) and making sure we execute brilliantly on the few things that
make a difference. Behind this is a large range of customer benefits
that our customers will discover over time—these include Skinny Dollars,
our Skinny mobile menu, call me back, credit transfer, Skinny to Skinny
calling and the list goes on. Our daily sales have quadrupled in the
last month and this is accelerating.”


Executive Creative Director: Antonio Navas
Creative Director: Slade Gill
Art Director: Brad Collett
Head of TV: Jane Oak
Strategic Planning: Murray Streets, Ben Fielding
GAD: Shelley Winsor
Senior Account Manager: Natalie Gibb
Editing facility: Sparks
Editor: Nathan Pickles
Post Production: Sparks
VFX operator: Puck Murphy
Audio: Liquid Studios / Craig Matuschka
Brand development/ design: Blake Enting, Cassidy van Dyk – Saatchi Worldwide Design
Media: Alistair Jamison, Nick Ascough, Ryan Jordan – Starcom Worldwide

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