Politics trumps advertising as Orcon farewells Dotcom

As Kim Dotcom shifts his attention to the political arena with the formation of the Internet Party (and he’s a step closer to making it official following the approval of his sign-up app), his time as Orcon’s mascot is coming to an end. 

Six months ago, Kim Dotcom was selected to front Orcon’s ‘First World Broadband’ campaign, which was created by Contagion and aimed to highlight New Zealand’s restrictive data caps. And, in a release, Orcon chief executive Greg McAlister said it had been the company’s most successful campaign to date.

“Our clear position to bring First World Internet to New Zealand has really resonated with New Zealanders and we’ve seen very strong results for the business,” he says. “Over 70 percent of our sales are now for an unlimited plan, with customers taking it up primarily to avoid bill shock and to stop squabbles in the flat or home about excess usage. Ultra-fast-broadband (UFB) has also taken off. We’ve now got more UFB connections than any other telco.” 

McAlister says Dotcom was chosen as talent for the campaign not only because he is an Orcon customer, but because he shares the company’s belief that uncapped broadband should be accessible to all Kiwis. He’s also a polarising character and a PR machine, which is generally a good combo if you’re a challenger brand. And, in a nice touch, he donated his appearance fee to Starship. 

“While Kim Dotcom isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, he’s helped bring the topic of unlimited broadband to the forefront,” he says. “There’s no doubt he gets attention and you can’t argue his passion for the internet. The fact he loves Orcon’s service helped too. The campaign has worked its socks off for us but now Kim Dotcom’s involvement with the Internet Party means we’ll risk running foul of New Zealand Electoral laws if we continue to use him to front our campaign. It’s time for us to bid farewell and move to the next phase of our campaign to champion unlimited broadband.”

It wasn’t all beer, skittles and extra customers, of course. There were multiple complaints to the ASA about the campaign and it was accused of making light of the serious issue of child poverty, but the ASA said the ad was a parody and would not cause widespread offence. 

Orcon was also pinged by the ASA for misleading consumers by promoting “truly unlimited fast broadband” when the company was able to charge customers for using excess data.

“The Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) complaints board said there was a high level of ambiguity about the ad, saying Orcon’s Fair Use policy, which charges for excessive data use, ‘contradicted the claim of offering truly unlimited broadband'”. 

Orcon appealed the decision on the basis that it never enforced the Fair Use policy and it then scrapped it for its unlimited data plans.

“Orcon customers are free to go crazy and use as much data as they want. We have some customers using nine terabytes per month on our residential unlimited plans, which shows just how unlimited they really are,” McAlister said at the time.

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