T-Mobile displays devotion to family with free phone offer

T-Mobile has "always been about helping families," says Michelle Webb, senior communications manager, adding the mobile phone company is committed to running more promotions to demonstrate this positioning.

Client

T-Mobile (Bellevue, WA)

PR agency

Zeno Group (Los Angeles)

Campaign

T-Mobile Father's Day Promotion

Duration

May-June 19, 2010

Budget

$200,000

T-Mobile has "always been about helping families," says Michelle Webb, senior communications manager, adding the mobile phone company is committed to running more promotions to demonstrate this positioning.

For Father's Day, all phones in every store were free on June 19 to all who signed up for a family plan. Zeno Group, which does project work for T-Mobile, helped execute a five-day campaign to drive the promotion.

"T-Mobile wanted to do something that had never been done in the industry," Webb explains. "This put a stake in the ground showing that we're here for families. PR was tasked with driving mass awareness."

Strategy

T-Mobile sent a teaser mailer to media and bloggers just ahead of a June 15 Associated Press exclusive to announce the promotion. Continued traditional and social media outreach drove awareness, while TV, print, radio, and digital ads ran June 16-19.

"A lot of offers are tied to 'free' and they're very often too good to be true," Webb explains. "It was on PR to help drive believability of the offer. We had to explain that it was really true and provide a clear outline of how to get free phones."

On June 19, T-Mobile held radio remote events at stores in 10 top media and distribution markets, including Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York, where the largest event was held at T-Mobile's flagship Herald Square store.

Lisa Robinson, MD and chief creative officer at Zeno Group, says the team developed a "No More Ties for Dad" theme after an Omnibus Poll revealed most dads don't really want the gifts they get for Father's Day.

Tactics

The teaser mailers included old, funky ties with a tag that read, "What do dads really want this Father's Day? Hint: Not another ugly tie. T-Mobile knows what Dads want. One day only. June 19." The mailers went out to national consumer, tech, trade, and business media, as well as bloggers.

The team also created and posted a humorous "No More Ties" video on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, while T-Mobile used Facebook and Twitter to post news and promotion details.

In addition, Bill Walton, a T-Mobile spokesperson, pro basketball Hall of Famer, and a father, conducted an SMT on June 18. The company also enlisted seven dad bloggers to help spread  the word, with one blogger each day featured on the company's Facebook page, leading up to June 19.

Zeno managed the Herald Square store event in New York, which included free breakfast, street teams, a prize wheel, and a local radio remote.

Results

Sales on June 19 more than doubled T-Mobile's previous one-day record, occurring several years ago during the holidays, Webb says. Cumulative store traffic in several markets was 15 times higher than average.

From June 14-19, T-Mobile added 1,300 new Twitter followers and 4,000 Facebook fans. Webb adds that use of keyword "T-Mobile" on Twitter rose from 2,500 to 8,500 times a day during that week. The "No More Ties" video was viewed 75,000 times from June 16-20.

Webb also notes its Facebook fans and Twitter followers have both shown double-digit growth each month since the campaign.

The effort garnered coverage in outlets such as Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal, and Gizmodo.

Future

Zeno and T-Mobile plan to collaborate in the future. The in-house team launched a "Kids are Free" offer September 8 and is gearing up for product and service launches for the holidays.

"We saw a lot of social media success with this campaign," Webb adds. "We'll continue to push social media engagement."


This was a unique, stand-out promotion. The tease kick- started buzz, while the Associated Press exclusive really drove momentum. This team did a tremendous job following up with many additional outlets in a short time frame. It was wise to have messaging in place to help consumers know the phones were truly free. It also paid off to use social media to communicate the message in terms of increasing engagement - both for this effort and for the future. On every level, this campaign was a win-win for T-Mobile and consumers.

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