My last post paid homage to an irreverent approach to advertising. The brand in question was of course the phone network; 48. Many were confused and when they weren’t confused they were offended. Was this a joke? Was the possibility of sex and glamour actually being used to sell a phone network? Usually when an age limit accompanies anything to do with sex, alcohol and debauchery, it’s designed to keep the young out, not lure them in. It worked. The brand emerged from nowhere and everyone knew what they were about, the imagery and language used within their ads was distinctive and strong.
The ASAI was inevitably inundated with complaints. The radio ads used sordid language to describe the antics of the typical 48 user. The scantily clad models in the outdoor advertising were seen as unnecessary and inappropriate on the grounds that there was absolutely no link between boobs and phone credit. This reaction on behalf of the public was to be expected. What was not expected was the reaction given on 48’s behalf. They completely disposed of their original brand image. They didn’t gradually evolve with time or gently water down the aspects that got them in the most trouble, no they walked away and returned unrecognisable.
For me, I can’t imagine this new ad as being part of a campaign. There is absolutely no brand message apparent in this ad. Admittedly I am not part of the target market but I should still understand what they are trying to communicate here. The visuals are bright and eye catching but they create no image. Had the brand debuted with this ad I honestly don’t think the campaign or the network offer would have been a success. On the other hand, perhaps this was the intention all along; emerge on the market with the kind of initial impact a brand could not sustain. Maybe the complaints were anticipated and the original campaign message was designed to be short lived and to make the kind of impact needed to gather a mass following. Even considering these possibilities, I still can’t seem to get to grips with what the new campaign is trying to tell customers. It’s obviously aimed at young people, given the light ‘tone’ and trendy Asian pop culture imagery but apart from that it feels as though there’s very little else going on.
Again, maybe i’m judging a campaign before it has had the chance to develop but with the old campaign, the Irish public was instantly enthralled. Yet the new ad has received a positive response on Youtube with one member asking when Ireland got so cool, this comment then received over 80 thumbs up in agreement.
Like the target market that the brand is aimed at, the 48 brand is reinventing it’s image like a fickle teenager. In one respect this is a positive thing, a brand image should not remain stagnant but the drastic realignment of the brand image seemed panicked and disconnected from the original values that the brand had developed. Only time will tell how this campaign will be received.