Australia’s newest telco Circles.Life announced itself to the public in a rather unorthodox way.
A half-page ad in The Courier Mail. It wasn’t just any newspaper ad, however, it was a two-part stunt, which aimed to dupe readers into thinking fictional character “Charlotte” was breaking up with her partner in a very public way.
Completely unbranded the first time, the ad was then updated the next day to show Charlotte was in fact breaking up with her telco, rather than her partner.
“It made a lot of sense to start with a breakup letter wherein someone was brave enough to say ‘I’m sick and tired of this, I’m going to break up with you very publicly’,” said Circles.Life head of marketing Delbert Ty.
Another reason behind the decision was the relatively low-cost associated with the campaign, he explained.
“We knew we wouldn’t necessarily get the reach from the newspaper itself, but we’ll get the reach through the conversations that will start online,” Ty said.
So focused on ensuring the ad went viral, Ty and the marketing team actually made mock ups of the letter and shared them in forums such as 9gag and Reddit.
“We shared it in these forums and then we saw there was actual organic conversation happening it,” Ty explained.
To better understand why Circles.Life made the decision to test its ad campaign out on Reddit and 9gag, it helps to recognise the target market.
“Our niche is people that are heavily reliant on digital services,” Ty said.
“Folks that use uber on a regular basis, people who going to the grocery store to pickup their stuff is a thing of the past.”
big fish in the telco pond
First launched in Singapore in 2016, Circles.Life only entered the Australian market last year, at a time when the Vodafone and TPG merger was still up in the air and major telcos Telstra and Optus had a strong hold on the market.
The approval of the Vodafone/TPG deal changes things slightly, but the Australian telecommunications industry is still more or less an oligopoly.
But as Ty pointed out, this isn’t unique to Australia.
“If you think of how the telco industry has evolved globally, it’s followed the same continuum of evolution, wherein it all started as a publicly owned company and eventually there’s deregulation which allows competitors to come in,” he said.
“Because of the heavy capital expenditure that is required to come in, you will, in pretty much most cases, end up with some kind of oligopoly.”
So what does this mean from a marketing perspective for a challenger like Circles.Life?
Much like the letter in the newspaper stunt, or a cheeky campaign at a food market in Singapore in 2018, cheap and agile is the way to go for a challenger telco.
“We cannot outspend them [competitors], because in their case they’ve literally put down billions of dollars in capital expenditure and network bandwidth,” Ty said.
“In our case, we can choose to spend as much or as little as we want, depending on how much and how fast we want to grow.
“Once we’re clear with the brand – how we want to communicate and what we want to say – it’s really all about how you can connect that with a creative idea that can be executed in a relatively cheeky way and a very smart way when it comes to spending the money.”
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