3 unlocks phone's appeal, Citizen Brando

Campaign: The Race to Unbox; Sony Ericsson Xperia Play
Client: 3 Mobile
PR team: Citizen Brando
Timescale: 23 March
Budget: £7,200

When Sony Ericsson launched phone Xperia Play, 3 Mobile was given the first ten phones to come off the production line. The mobile phone network asked Brando to give away the phones in a creative way using social media.


- To build hype around the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play available on 3

- To increase the volume of positive conversation online.

Strategy and plan

The PR team decided to use 3's Twitter channel, which already had a large and engaged audience, to host a competition.

Using 3's advertising strapline 'Unchain Your Smartphone', the Xperia Play was chained to a plinth along with nine other prizes and 30 numbered padlocks. Competitors had to guess which key opened a padlock from a choice of 30 keys.

Players tweeted different combinations and a Twitcam streamed the action.

The winners were announced live via Twitter.

Measurement and evaluation

The competition was supported by speaking to key gaming and technology bloggers. There were 12,929 uses of the #WinThreeXperiaPlay hashtag.


The Twitter feed gained an additional 417 followers on the day of the competition. The competition trended on Twitter, achieving third place in the UK.


Jono Marcus, Head of digital innovation, Citizen Brando

Nine months on, our massive Twitter splash for 3 is still being talked about as a benchmark for social media trending, and is up for industry awards.

So, how did we come up with it? We knew that we had to tap into the fact that fans were desperate for this phone. And they would probably go to any lengths to get their hands on it.

So we set about creating a prison for the phone - a prison that could be opened only by 3's Twitter fans.

New Xperia Plays in Perspex boxes with coiled, padlocked chains holding them fast provided the ultimate challenge - the ultimate temptation.

We also included other prizes in the plinth and numbered every padlock and chain, to ensure that every participant stood a realistic prospect of winning a prize, if they tweeted in the correct combination of chain and padlock.

All that was left was to focus a Twitcam on the scene and shout out to 3's Twitter followers to 'Unchain Your Smartphone'.

With the competition trending on Twitter within its first few minutes, we knew we had captured the public's imagination.

3's Twitter following gained an additional 417 people in the first hours of the competition alone, and the brand's Klout score increased to 68.

Overall, the activity had a massive impact on brand favourability, with positive sentiment towards 3 increasing by 12 per cent in the week following the competition.

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