The first ad from Racal Vodafone (from 1985) introduces the concept of the mobile phone (well, actually it's a carphone, remember them?) with the central thought that you can be "in" when you are "out" (2). It stars Gordon Kaye from 'Allo 'Allo, rather disconcertingly with an English accent. The ad itself is lightly amusing and delivers its key message well, although it now looks very dated and a world away from the glossy mobile operator ads of today.
We leap forward 17 years to the next ad, which shows how far Vodafone, the mobile industry and the associated advertising moved on during the period (3). This film launched the "How are you?" strapline, which I like for its simplicity and ease of translation into the many markets in which Vodafone now operates. Indeed, this ad is a big-budget, pan-European, feel-good, corporate brand vehicle that helped consolidate the rapid growth Vodafone engineered around this time. It demonstrates the power that a decent music track (provided by the Dandy Warhols) can deliver to a series of vignettes of beautiful people, in aspirational scenes. That this single went to number one also delivered an excellent media multiplier to the TV campaign. There's a good dip in pace to the film halfway through, to deliver a small joke (bloke at the opera whose phone goes off, similar to Orange's later work) and we see Vodafone's first use of David Beckham, albeit with all his Man United team-mates.
The next film returns to delivering product messages, to herald the launch of Vodafone Live! (1) Not so much why you need a mobile at all, but why you need your mobile to have optional extras such as a camera and access to computer games. The use of Beckham at the height of his footballing and hairstyle fame makes the ad appealing and it probably delivered massive cut-through, helped by another great soundtrack from The Mock Turtles' one and only hit, Can You Dig It?.
The fourth ad continues the Live! theme, and reuses the Can You Dig It?
soundtrack (4). It shows one of the benefits of having a camera on your phone is to be invited in for coffee after a date - a great reason for any young person to buy one! Although the ad is well shot and cast, it appears a little too "small" and intimate and, as a result, doesn't have quite the power of the Beckham spot.
Vodafone's advertising evolves further, with the launch of 3G, and the next ad concentrates on music downloads (5). Once again this ad uses great music tracks to show the range and depth of what 3G can offer, with a bloke with an amusing array of hairstyles that match the music he is listening to. This is quite a cool ad and quite "Levi's" in its production values, and the branding and product messages are communicated well.
The final ad goes back to basics of cheaper calls and better value (6).
As you will all know, we media johnnies love a short TV ad, but these really take advantage of that brevity, as opposed to cutting down the message, or limiting creativity to fit the media budget. In the style of the ads, I'll keep it short - love 'em!
1. VODAFONE Title: Supermarket Agency: JWT Year: 2002 2. VODAFONE Title: Racal Agency: Warman & Bannister Year: 1985 3. VODAFONE Title: Anthem Agency: JWT Year: 2002 4. VODAFONE Title: Coffee Agency: JWT Year: 2003 5. VODAFONE Title: Hairdo Agency: JWT Year: 2004 6. VODAFONE Title: Gay Agency: JWT Year: 2005
This article was first published on Campaign