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Vodafone small business challenge

Vodafone small business challenge

Best practice from OMD UK

Vodafone had a problem. Its success in the corporate business world created a relative weakness at the smaller end of the ‘enterprise’ market.

Small businesses perceived Vodafone as being too big and corporate and didn’t see Vodafone’s advertising as relevant to them.

On top of this channels that specifically target small business are both fragmented and patchy in terms of coverage. Creating advertising impact to these audiences is almost impossible.

OMD UK proposed a campaign that would bring the audience to them and demonstrate Vodafone’s innate understanding of the small business world.

The client brief asked OMD UK to change perceptions of the trades based (more blue collar) small business audience to help deliver sales of a voice and text based business tariff - as opposed to the white collar target audience who Vodafone attract with their data based offerings (e.g. Blackberry and USB modems).

The big idea

It was Autumn, thoughts were turning towards the season of goodwill – it was the perfect time to lay down the Vodafone Small Business Challenge to local businesses: ‘What can you do to help make a community project happen in your area for the benefit of all?’ 

Vodafone would act as the impetus and facilitator of inspirational acts of locally based goodwill – reflecting their role as a lubricant in everyday business life

OMD UK had two key insights. The first being that the local community is at the heart of small tradespeople’s business worlds. They do the majority of their business locally, with regional reputation hugely important. To break the image of Vodafone concentrating on big businesses we needed to root our activity in the local community.

The second insight was that small businesses are proud of their work. They do not necessarily set up business to make big money, rather it is often a decision that centers on job satisfaction and lifestyle. To engage this community OMD UK needed to offer a chance to use their skills and expertise whilst contributing to their local commmunity.

Making it happen

OMD UK had a compelling cause to get involved in, now they needed a way of reaching and motivating their target audience to take an interest, take part and discuss what was going on - as only by inspiring bonhomie and talkability could they really start shifting perceptions.

From their bespoke client audience surveys and Touchpoints analysis, OMD UK knew that radio was a medium small businesses love and they subsequently used GCap and Bauer’s networks to cover off the 21 areas they had identified as key and set about laying down the Vodafone Small Business Challenge.

Individual projects were picked to tap into the needs and spirit of the locale. People were invited to not simply listen to the projects unfold but contribute anything from time and expertise to raw materials to making a well earned tea for everyone. In return helpers’ businesses were given on air mentions whilst Vodafone received recognition via recorded trails, as well as the all important DJ talk ups which set a tone of collaborative effort.

In London even the legendary ‘Help a London Child’ Christmas campaign changed format from their usual gift collection to a Vodafone challenge. Launched by Jonny Vaughn live on his breakfast show he chatted to a senior OMD UK client, Elaine Roberts, about Vodafone’s involvement – exactly the sort of ‘money can’t buy’ endorsement they were looking for (not to mention a very excited client!)


Stations became so involved with the projects that overplayed trails and content over-delivered impacts by a staggering 78%. Vodafone small business customer preference scores rose from 49% to 57%, moving Vodafone to first place in the sector, and ‘non-customer consideration’ beat client targets by a full 6 percentage points.

This contributed to Vodafone small business sales increasing 55% during the activity - Oct to Dec 2007 (sources: Vodafone sales and brand health data). Possibly most pleasing result of all is that OMD UK rooted their campaign in the importance of the local community and as such 23 projects have now been completed including the building of an entire new wing of the Shooting Star Children’s Hospice in London.



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