T-Mobile International AG & Company KG

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T-Mobile International AG & Company KG

Landgrabenweg 151
Bonn, 53227
Germany
Telephone: 49 228 93631717
Fax: 49 228 93631719
Web site: www.t-mobile-international.com

GET MORE CAMPAIGN

OVERVIEW

As the telecommunication industry spent $5.8 billion on consumer advertising in 2003, top competitors formulated brand identities that would gain them footholds in the industry. The Sprint PCS Group created advertising to boast its all-digital, nationwide service loaded with features, whereas Cellco Partnership's Verizon Wireless, the biggest advertising spender and wireless provider in the United States, branded Verizon Wireless as a high-quality service with its "Can You Hear Me Now?" campaign. When Europe's largest telecommunications company, Deutsche Telekom AG, acquired the U.S. telecommunications companies VoiceStream Wireless and Powertel, Inc., in 2001, it combined the two under the name T-Mobile International AG & Company KG, which then stood as the sixth-largest provider in the United States. The next year T-Mobile used VoiceStream's 1998 "Get more" tagline for a campaign intended to brand T-Mobile as a service that offered more minutes, features, and service than its competitors.

For the new campaign T-Mobile chose not to renew its contract with spokesperson and actress Jamie Lee Curtis, who had appeared in VoiceStream commercials since 1998. To attract younger subscribers, in 2002 T-mobile hired the 11-years-younger actress Catherine Zeta-Jones as the brand's spokesperson and awarded ad agency Publicis West a $100 million ad budget to release "Get More." Using television, print, outdoor, and radio mediums, the campaign first appeared on September 3, 2002. The first 30-second commercials, which aired on network and cable TV, featured Zeta-Jones improving people's romantic predicaments with a T-Mobile phone. In the spot "Czech" a disappointed young man on vacation told a Czech woman that he could not join her in Venice because of his dog-sitting responsibilities back home. Zeta-Jones appeared with a T-Mobile phone so that he could ask his friend in New York to watch the dog.

Six months into the campaign T-Mobile was the fastest-growing wireless provider in United States. It added 2.9 million subscribers in 2002, a 41 percent increase over 2001. During the campaign's first three months 4 out of 10 new mobile phone customers chose T-Mobile over its competitors. By 2004 T-Mobile had overtaken Nextel Communications to become the nation's fifth-largest wireless provider. The campaign continued into 2005 and also won a Bronze EFFIE Award from the New York American Marketing Association.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Although Deutsche Telekom acquired both Powertel (based in Atlanta) and VoiceStream (based in Washington state) in 2001, VoiceStream provided the majority of T-Mobile's U.S. subscriber base. Besides being the nation's sixth-largest wireless-service provider, VoiceStream was the first to offer two-way text messaging and high-speed wireless data services to the U.S. marketplace. In 1998 Curtis starred in most of VoiceStream's "Get More" campaign commercials to reinforce the provider's tagline, "One phone, one number, one service." VoiceStream's infrastructure used GSM (Global Systems for Mobile Communications), the world's most recognized wireless technology, which allowed T-Mobile subscribers to place calls in more than 90 different countries for as low as 99 cents per minute. The campaign hoped to target globetrotting businesses that roamed from one country's network to another. Curtis was chosen for her sassy, versatile image. "Her active lifestyle runs the gamut—wife, mother, actress, author—she epitomizes who can use it to get more from life," Kim Thompson, a spokeswoman for VoiceStream, explained to the Associated Press.

In hindsight VoiceStream recognized that its original "Get More" campaign targeted a narrow demographic. "What portion of the population actually travels between Europe and America on any kind of regular basis? You have to look at it as a stand-alone business with its own ability to generate cash rather than as some kind of strategic global initiative," Charles Golvin, senior analyst at Forrester Research (a firm specializing in researching technology trends) told the International Herald Tribune.

In 2001 Deutsche Telekom purchased VoiceStream and Powertel for $30 billion. After acquiring additional smaller companies, Deutsche Telekom unified its telecommunications conglomerate under the name T-Mobile in 2002. In the United States T-Mobile repositioned its brand to capture the burgeoning youth market. "The T-Mobile debut in California and Nevada continues several things that the company did well as VoiceStream—namely building upon its 'get more' philosophy, offering competitive pricing and including features like AOL Instant Messenger that appeal to younger consumers. The teen youth segment presents an immediate opportunity for growth as they begin to aggressively add new subscribers," Knox Bricken, senior analyst with the Yankee Group (a research and consulting firm specializing in the technology market), told Business Wire. To further entice youth, T-Mobile offered calling plans as low as 8.2 cents a minute, undercutting its competitor Verizon's 14.8 cents a minute.

TARGET MARKET

Once VoiceStream was rebranded as T-Mobile, the international-traveler target became secondary, and the youth demographic was made primary. The target market became 18- to 34-year-olds as opposed to 18- to 49-year-olds. "VoiceStream historically has had a younger subscriber type," John Clelland, senior vice president for marketing and communications at T-Mobile, told the International Herald Tribune. "With the merger and the brand conversion, we are better equipped to go after those accounts." While competitors such as Nextel and Sprint targeted adults by featuring businesspeople using phones to solve business problems, "Get More" commercials featured young people using phones to improve romantic predicaments. The content was considered more appropriate for youth.

To continue marketing the service's continued global versatility, the first three commercials starred Czech, British, Italian, and American actors benefiting from T-Mobile's service. To attract the younger target T-Mobile also replaced Jamie Lee Curtis with 32-year-old Catherine Zeta-Jones (who had starred in Chicago and The Mask of Zorro) as the brand's spokesperson. "So the new Dona T-Mobile is younger, more sassy, and darn intercontinental. And if you're going global, who could possibly do better in that arena than a Welsh woman who pretends she's Spanish: Catherine Zeta-Jones?" jabbed Adweek's Barbara Lippert.

PARIS HILTON'S SIDEKICK

The Sidekick, a device developed by T-Mobile to allow subscribers to check E-mail, surf the Internet, and place voice calls, was one of the T-Mobile's highest-end handset options. T-Mobile received attention when hotel heiress Paris Hilton's Sidekick was hacked into and her entire contact list posted on the Internet. Within hours celebrities such as tennis player Anna Kournikova and teen actress Lindsay Lohan were receiving phone calls from hundreds of strangers.

COMPETITION

During the Jamie Lee Curtis portion of the campaign, expensive advertising and competitive pricing within the mobile-phone industry threatened to cripple the top providers' profitability. "The industry has hit an inflection point where it's not just about trying to lure new customers," Weston Henderek, an analyst at telecom-research firm Current Analysis, said to RCR Wireless News. "Carriers are having to go after their competitors' customers with advertisements explaining why they are a better choice." Sprint PCS used its trench coat-wearing spokesman, "Sprint Guy," to tout the provider's all-digital, nationwide network loaded with cutting-edge features. Verizon's "Can You Hear Me Now?" campaign demonstrated the network's strong coverage. In 2003 Verizon spent an estimated $300 million to $400 million on that campaign with an additional $700 to $800 on direct-mail and in-store promotions. Another provider, Cingular, spent $873 million on advertising in 2004.

According to analysts and consumer polls, providers were not distinguishing themselves from one another by establishing clear brand identities. AT&T Wireless Services and Cingular, for instance, simultaneously branded themselves as low-cost providers with personalized calling plans in 2002. Also, using service features to entice customers was not working. Industry terms such as "rollover minutes" and "anytime minutes" did not mean much to consumers. "Carriers will need to explain to customers what their more-advanced networks can provide," Henderek explained to RCR Wireless News. "You can't just launch these services and expect consumers to understand why they should be spending more money for higher-speed networks. You have to explain the nitty-gritty details so they can see the value of advanced services." Verizon, the largest advertising spender out of all American brands in 2003, led the competition with 37.5 million subscribers. When the second largest, Cingular, acquired the third largest, AT&T, in early 2004, the combined subscriber base boosted Cingular to the number one position.

MARKETING STRATEGY

In 1998 VoiceStream used the tagline "Get More" to showcase its service's ability to operate in over 90 different countries. Once VoiceStream was rebranded as T-Mobile, the tagline "Get More" was changed to mean "more minutes, more features, and more service." Robert Dotson, president of T-Mobile's U.S. headquarters, told Business Wire, "Mobile communications have exploded in the past two years, extending way beyond voice-only services to give customers constant access to their E-mail, the Internet and other information virtually whenever and wherever. The T-Mobile global brand reflects the whole spectrum of mobile services we provide on a worldwide basis, while maintaining our 'Get more' promise to provide customers with the best overall value and service in their wireless communications."

The campaign's first spots were directed by Tarsem Singh, who had directed the psychological thriller The Cell. The first 60-second commercial, "Anthem," used a mélange of dazzling images and had actors repeating the lines, "More minutes, more features, more service." Catherine Zeta-Jones also appeared in the spot to explain, "more asking, more getting." The spot ended with the tagline "Get more from life."

Three additional 30-second spots directed by Singh appeared during the campaign's first month. All featured Zeta-Jones solving communication problems for young people with a T-Mobile phone. In "Czech," a spot that appeared to take place in Prague, a beautiful Czech girl asked an American man, "You stay and we go to Venice?" He passed on the invitation by stating he needed to watch his dog at home. Zeta-Jones then appeared to say, "Stop, stop, stop—is he kidding?" She handed him a T-Mobile phone so he could call his friend back home, who agreed to watch the dog another week. Another spot featured an English woman attempting to attract the attention of a nearby Italian man. Zeta-Jones saved the day again with a T-Mobile phone, helping the woman call a language institute and learn an Italian phrase. In the fourth spot Zeta-Jones provided a phone for a bored postal clerk to invite a friend to a martial-arts movie.

Critics praised the initial spots for their youthful, global positioning but criticized the campaign's muddled message. Adweek's Barbara Lippert wrote, "Is T-Mobile a phone and a service? We don't find out. And while aiming at Gen X-ers is an interesting idea, low-energy slackers like the post office guy aren't exactly the kind of hard-driving businessmen who rely on having the same phone and number when traveling."

Between 2002 and 2005 Publicis used "Get More" to advertise T-Mobile's photo messaging, downloadable HiFi ringers, and its popular Sidekick II, a device that combined E-mail, phone, and wireless-browser capabilities. Throughout the campaign Zeta-Jones starred as the brand's spokesperson. The actress "totally connected with our vision, which is a cross between the fun 'girl next door' and a magical catalyst for spontaneous communication," Publicis executive creative director Bob Moore told Entertainment Weekly.

PHONE GAMES

Seamus McAteer, a senior analyst at M*Metrics (a telecommunications-industry-analysis company), told Wireless Week that although most PC and console gamers were male, the majority of mobile-phone gamers were young females.

OUTCOME

The ad-industry high-water mark for "Get More" was winning a Bronze EFFIE Award (Telecom Services category) from the New York American Marketing Association in 2004. More significantly, the campaign helped T-Mobile unify its brand and become one of the biggest challengers within a cutthroat industry. In 2003 telecom analyst Jeff Kagan told the Seattle Times, "T-Mobile is a patchwork quilt of so many different companies that it's a big challenge to run and operate. The wireless industry is going through a major transition. T-Mobile is definitely a player, but they're a very small player." The "small player" was the year's fastest-growing wireless provider and increased its subscribers by 41 percent, totaling almost 10 million by 2004. During the campaign's first three months, 4 out of every 10 new subscribers were choosing T-Mobile.

T-Mobile's domestic success was primarily attributed to three factors: the appointment of Robert Dotson as president of T-Mobile's American base, the brand's average service price of 8.2 cents a minute, and Publicis's effective marketing campaign. "We have grown a fabulous business and team at T-Mobile built around the compelling philosophy of 'Get more' for our customers. [Dotson] is the author of that philosophy and it's through his relentless focus on making it a reality for our customers that he has lead our team to become the fastest growing company in the U.S. wireless industry," T-Mobile's domestic chairman, John Stanton, told Business Wire.

FURTHER READING

Carter, Ben. "ANALYSIS: McDonald's and BT Go After the Wi-Fi Diners." Marketing, January 15, 2004, p. 14.

Cuneo, Alice. "Cell Giants Plot $1.5B Ad Bonanza; New FCC Rules Spark Battle to Entice Rivals' Customers." Advertising Age, October 6, 2003, p. 1.

Duryee, Tricia. "VoiceStream Gives Curtis a Dial Tone." Seattle Times, November 11, 2004, p. E1.

Garner, Heather. "R-JENERATION: It's For You." Las Vegas Review-Journal, December 17, 2002, p. 4E.

Howard, Theresa. "'Can You Hear Me Now?' a Hit; Simple 'Test Man' Ads Help Verizon Wireless Stay Strong." USA Today, February 23, 2004, p. B08.

Luke, Robert. "Rivals Smell Blood in AT&T-Cingular Waters." Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 26, 2004, p. E3.

Marek, Sue. "Mobile Game Standouts; Wireless Operators Weigh In on What It Takes to Make a Top-Selling Mobile Game." Wireless Week, January 1, 2005, p. 24.

Meyer, Dan. "Dotson to Take Over Top Reins at T-Mobile USA." RCR Wireless News, March 31, 2003, p. 3.

――――――. "Operators Spend Big to Get Message Across." RCR Wireless News, April 25, 2005, p. 12.

Norris, Gary. "Nortel Rebuilds Image with Ad Campaign." Toronto Star, November 9, 2004, p. D02.

Vinakmens, Kristen. "Wireless Wars: Carriers Strive for Identity as Cell Market Matures." Strategy, September 8, 2003, p. 2.

Wallace, Brice. "Making Connections." Salt Lake City (UT) Deseret News, August 3, 2003, p. M01.

                                        Kevin Teague

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