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What next for Telecom after sex fiasco?

What next for Telecom after sex fiasco?

Stephen Beath
August 19, 2011

Telecom’s ‘Backing Black’ campaign that called on fans to abstain from sex during the Rugby World Cup earned a well-deserved red card from the public this week. What was an attempt at a light hearted ‘tongue in cheek’ campaign only served to reveal how out of touch it is with the New Zealand psyche. Following the backlash Telecom wisely decided to pull the campaign after admitting it got it wrong.

What is really interesting about this saga is not the fact the campaign caused a stir, but the sheer strength of the outcry from the general public.

We need to dig a bit deeper into Telecom’s current image to understand how it could create such a vitriolic response. Telecom does not yet have the general goodwill of the public behind them to pull off such a daring campaign. You only have to be a customer of Telecom to understand the long simmering resentment that builds up when both service and reliability appear to take second place to multi-million dollar advertising campaigns.

I have a few tips for Telecom that might go some distance to fixing the problem.

1) Get the basics right first. Instead of spending millions on poorly executed brand tactics why not invest those dollars on a world class and fully staffed NZ call centre so customers get the service they deserve.

2) Focus your messages on promoting your point of difference. Amid the furore of the Backing Black campaign I happened to notice a well-crafted advertisement showing how the XT network well and truly outperforms Vodafone’s. Now there’s a message worth shouting about.

3) Consider hiring another brand agency. Saatchi and Saatchi have served you poorly in what’s supposed to be your marquee sponsorship event of 2011. You don’t yet have the cool credentials of 42 Below or the class of Air New Zealand to pull off an irreverent campaign just yet.

So what’s the key learning from this experience? The message here is simple, you earn goodwill first by doing what is expected of you. You don’t simply buy it through sponsorship and advertising. Good honest service is perhaps the best starting point for Telecom.


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