Establishing EE as a leader and bringing magic to the mobile network category
Today EE is a Superbrand that now sits at the heart of BT Group’s consumer offering after its £12.5bn acquisition in 2016. It is dominating the mobile network market in the UK not only for the now established 4G technology it introduced in 2012, but also in the new 5G standard that will define our lives over the next 20 years. But it wasn’t always this way.
When we launched EE in 2012 it was an unknown brand offering an untested technology in 4G that no one particularly thought they wanted or needed. Critical to its success has been a consistent creative platform that has built the brand into a dominant position as well as driven sales growth since the brand’s birth. There are no sterile conversations about EE brand and demand generation, its one brand with one creative system.
When our story began the UK market was dominated by O2, with Vodafone at number two. EE’s predecessors, Orange and T-Mobile, were third and fourth, while value players such as Three and Tesco brought up the rear. The category had lost its way when it came to value creation. The commodification of texts and talk meant that you could run a huge campaign offering people "free texts and minutes for life" and they would simply shrug and walk by.
The future was all about data, but few operators were making a success of selling 3G services at the premiums that were needed to keep their businesses and the sector healthy. So how do you launch an unknown brand in the UK, selling a technology that no-one knew they wanted and even fewer understood?
Well, you start with the name, identity and meaning of that brand. We named it EE and acquired its famous aqua and yellow livery to distance it from the design codes of the mobile category. The ethos of the brand became Now You Can, which exemplified the game-changing power of 4G in people’s lives. But no story about EE is complete without Kevin Bacon.
In EE’s world, Kevin is not just a Hollywood A-lister – he’s one of us. By pulling off the conceit that a much-loved US movie star is actually the boy next door, we have been able to cement EE into British culture with precision, helped with the judicious use of language such as "no brainer" and "it’s the nuts".
Kevin not only creates fame and cut through for EE, but he also had a major hand in making even the most intimidating technology feel safe. And this easy familiarity is Something we have used to great effect. Like communicating EE COVID responses to the nation: from free data for NHS staff in lockdown one, to free connectivity for kids and free school meals in lockdown two.
Every piece of activity is performing its allotted task to the full, it’s impossible to find communications from EE that you could mistake for and mis attribute to another brand.
The secret of efficiency and effectiveness regardless of size. This complete and coherent creative system working at every level of the funnel has massively multiplied EE’s available budget.
EE remains outspent by the competition. But, after years of network building, proposition delivery, brand activity and consistent marketing communications, the outcome is an extremely healthy brand and business. Released from the orthodoxies of the mobile category through a new brand, EE has been able to establish the importance, value and, yes, magic of the network.
We launched the EE brand in 2012 and grew it to become the largest mobile network provider in the UK by liberating the brand from category conventions, building a consistent creative platform and pioneering new technology.