CREATIVE STRATEGY: T-Mobile sings its way to a higher plane
When does advertising stop being advertising and become... something else? Hold that thought, because we'll be coming back to it on several levels.
T-Mobile: airport ad conveys a universal message
Over the past few months, your reviewer has found much to slag off in the world of commercial communications. It’s easy enough to pick holes in an ad if the execution is poor. But more often than not, it is the strategy that’s wanting. Because, without insight and a big idea, all we’re left with is some words slammed together with some pictures. The result is... just an ad. Just another part of the wallpaper.
For an idea of what advertising can be, look up "The T-Mobile Welcome Back" on YouTube.
Somewhere along the way, T-Mobile discovered flash-mobbing. As a social trend, it was past its sell-by date when the admen latched onto it. But that didn’t matter. When you have a whole gang of dancers shaking their stuff in Liverpool Street Station at rush hour, you create a bit of magic. Something people want to see – and share.
More recently, T-Mobile has taken its flash-mobbers to Heathrow Terminal 5. Remember the final scene in 'Love, Actually' when all the characters reunite with other halves at the customs gate? You get the idea.
In the T-Mobile version, singers greet random members of the public with an appropriate tune. Lovers, family members, even a bemused security guard are serenaded.
At first, it’s just very funny. But by the end, if you’re not welling up from your own memories of a welcome back, well, just check that your membership of our species is still valid.
My daughter’s reaction to the T-Mobile commercial is fair summation of its quality: "It’s an ad? But it’s too... good!" Exactly. "Life’s for sharing" says T-Mobile. And the airport film is a memorable way of expressing that proposition.
In the ever-crowded and confusing telco market, T-Mobile has seen what really matters to people (it’s people, not networks, stupid) and made it it's own.
Whether by accident or design, the emotional power of this property turns a hard-nosed ad into a universal message. And, given the time of year, an appropriate one.
Simon S Kershaw is a creative consultant and a former creative director at Craik Jones.
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