Telecom Advertising Campaign Fail

A quick look at the latest television commercial from Telecom advertising their XT Network.

This is an interesting marketing exercise. For those that don’t know, Telecom the once Government owned monopoly in phone services here in NZ launched a new network system recently. Since the phone networks have been opened up to competition (to some extent) Telecom has struggled to get ahead of the technology curve and the XT network was supposed to be the answer.

After spending a lot of money promoting the launch and signing up many customers with the launch specials the new network crashed. Not once, not twice, but numerous times (I lost count). Much of the country suddenly and without notice found they had no cellphone coverage for days at a time in some cases.

This leaves a lot of very unhappy customers and one Paul Reynolds CEO with egg on his face – especially when you consider the advertising that heralded his appointment to the company.

Originally I had an image here of the CEO Paul Reynolds on his appointment boasting a promise Telecom could not keep. Telecom have since decided that it is too embarrassing to have their archives online and no doubt hope that by removing them we will forget they used misleading (at best, I would assert false) advertising.

In an effort to regain the trust of a country Telecom runs another marketing campaign to announce the XT network is in fact now working. They chose none other than the CEO to front the marketing campaign.

The new ad shows Paul Reynolds, the charming Scotsman, trout fishing in a remote location. He praises New Zealanders for their “pick yourself up by the bootstrap” attitude, and suggest we should give Telecom another go. His phone then rings and he tries to answer it when “Buggar …” it appears to have dropped out again .. “only kiddin [cheeky grin].”

What they did right.

The used the CEO to front the campaign. He is after all a well known figure now.

What they got wrong.

It is all very well to admire our resilient attitude as Kiwis, but just because you kicked us in the guts with your swanky sales pitch and faulty system (not once, not twice, but several times) don’t expect us to give you another chance. Even if your handsome CEO smiles into the camera dressed in the latest in trout fishing attire.

As for the funny joke about the phone not working… now that was a serious flaw. They say good advertising should be controversial, but the person who scripted that ad should be looking for a new job.

There are many Kiwis who suffered direct hardship (custom lost, emergency calls unable to be connected) because Telecom’s state of the art network let them down. Now the CEO is on TV making a joke of the situation??!!

Ok.. one can see their intent. To appear personable and admit they screwed up “ha ha jokes on us.” But now they want to be taken serious again.

The perspective of one jaded Kiwi is that here is one overpaid Scotsman (making more just in bonuses than most people make in a lifetime) telling us he admires how he can kick us in the guts repeatedly and we keep getting up. Then he makes light of a situation caused a lot of stress and frustration in many people’s lives (and may even have cost the life of some) trying to be cute. The apology ends up being an insult.

Not the best marketing decision I have seen.

What do you think? Does it work for you?