Campaign: Retrofone battles the 'must-have' mobiles - Consumer

Campaign: - Yesterday's Connectivity Today


PR team: Johnson King

Timescale: October-December 2004

Budget: Under £10,000

After selling end-of-line and used mobile phones for five years on eBay, Retrofone founder Olly Tagg launched a dedicated online company. Johnson King was hired to promote the existence of the new website. Objectives

To generate awareness of To increase sales, both domestically and internationally.

Strategy and Plan

The main strategy of Johnson King was to push the idea of 'retro-chic' phones as being cheap and reliable alternatives to gimmicky, so-called 'must-haves'. This involved trying to change the relationship people have with mobile phones, so Johnson King commissioned a range of surveys about the public's attitude to their handsets.

Through such polls as favourite model (which turned out to be the Nokia 8110) and 'favourite phone moment', the campaign targeted a wide audience.

As well as research results and statistics, journalists were given retro phones to try for themselves in an effort to encourage coverage.

The pitch strategy was different for each audience. For businesses, for example, it was economically focused, emphasising the fact that one in four people had lost at least two phones in the past year.

Women, meanwhile, were told about the risk involved in taking expensive phones on holiday. To reach this audience, the PR team targeted women's glossies. Johnson King also ran an interactive campaign on radio.

Measurement and Evaluation

Retrofone was covered in a range of national newspapers, magazines and websites, including The Guardian, The Independent, Front, T3, Stuff, Chat and Online coverage also came from and Yahoo!

News, while radio stations such as BBC Manchester, BBC East and LBC reached an audience of more than two million listeners over two weeks.


In just three months, the popular Nokia 8110 was viewed on the Retrofone website 15,000 times, and the company reports that sales targets of £10,000 to £15,000 a month have been met. Retrofone has also seen a dramatic increase in international sales, with 15 per cent of phones now being bought from the Netherlands, and ten per cent from Italy.

'As well as alerting me to a decent company and business idea, Johnson King was ready with information, photos and samples - everything I needed to put the news story together without having to chase anyone,' says Chris Pilbeam, a contributor to Front magazine.

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