It’s Genius: Orcon predicts the telco future, DraftFCB chronicles the past for launch of new gizmo

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Youtube Video” class=”oembed” >Youtube Video Advertising is a funny old game. One minute you’re winning global creative accolades for clients, the next you’re wiping away salty tears after being cast aside. That’s pretty much what happened after Orcon dropped Special Group late last year and shacked up with DraftFCB and the new pairing have come up with their first major piece of work, a rather retro, extremely bright and entertainingly self-aware retail campaign to sell its flash new hero product, Genius

DraftFCB’s executive creative director James Mok admits it’s a long way from the heady brand-building heights of ‘Together Incredible’, which won the Cannes Lions Direct Grand Prix last year, but he reckons they’ve found a tone that works well for the brand. And, as a company that could be seen as the trixter God of the New Zealand telco pantheon, the challenge, he says, is to sell it with a smile (the exact opposite of Telecom, which aims to sell its products with tears).

Away from the advertising campaign itself, which was directed by Flying Fish’s Wade Shotter and shows how things used to be done before the internet came along and made everything better (no word yet on whether the next instalment will be about the history of porn), the product appears to be a long-awaited answer to a common telco question: why do consumers need to pay for one of those antiquated landlines in these modern, very well-connected, mobile times? Well, Orcon chief executive Scott Bartlett says the new device, a wireless modem that routes phone calls over broadband and can also charge USB-powered devices and send voicemail files to email, marks the beginning of the end for the landline as we know it.

“Within five years, every single phone in the country will operate using this technology,” he boldly claims.

Orcon is offering customers a $70 Genius plan, with two options: 30GB of broadband with standard calling rates, or 5GB of data with unlimited national landline calls. Extra data packs can also be added onto packages and they can keep their current phone numbers.

Bartlett says it’s the best deal in the country. “This is the price people should expect to pay.”

He says many ISPs make their plans unnecessarily complex. Instead, they should offer a starting point and let customers personalise their own.

“People love to use the internet and data caps are a problem. For some five or ten gigs is not enough. There are also people who don’t use huge amounts of data but they talk a lot … You can call your neighbour and it will cost the same as calling someone anywhere else in the country.”

TUANZ chief executive Paul Brislen says Orcon’s package is a step in the right direction, but believes voice calls over IP should be unmetered.

“Once we’ve got ultra-fast broadband rolled out the model for making voice calls changes,” he says. “We’re moving to a world where you share that connection with everybody else … and voice is no more important than email or web surfing or video. Ultimately I think we should just forget about charging for voice calls altogether.”

Rather, he says, consumers should be able to buy internet packages and make calls via phone, Skype or any other product of their choice. “It’s a matter of how quickly we get there, really.”

Bartlett says Genius is future-proofed and UFB-ready as it will operate on both copper and fibre. “In five years you won’t have any copper going into your home—just fibre.”

The device uses the same underlying technology as Skype but Bartlett describes it as “Skype made usable”.

“We love Skype. But if you want to make a call on Skype, you have to log on to your computer, plug in your headset, start skype, and type in the number. It requires you to be at your computer. Genius works exactly the same as your current home phone—it’s just seamless. The phone operates the same way it always has.”

Orcon collaborated on the product with Australian ISP iiNet , which set up iiNet Labs, its own R&D unit, for the past year. Genius is its first device, sold in Australia as the BoB 2.

In a statement last week Steve Harley, iiNet Labs chief executive, said it plans to make more of its products available through Orcon in the future.

“Orcon are the first export contract for us and we look forward to exploring more opportunities of this kind … We have been working with the team at Orcon to develop something that will work in both markets—from both a technology and product point of view. We’re both really happy with the outcome.”

Barltett says Orcon worked with iiNet closely from start to finish, from the general look and shape down to the internal circuit boards and chip.

“It sets itself up. You literally have to plug in two plugs. One is the power plug, one is for the telephone. It takes about a minute and a half.”

Genius will be available to 84 percent of Kiwi households and Bartlett says that will increase to 90 percent by Christmas. But full coverage will take years. He says broadband connections in deep rural New Zealand don’t meet the minimum standard for Genius to operate.


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