No consumer wants to be the bearer of a bad gift, so when T-Mobile and Zeno provided a free solution for the serious epidemic of ugly ties as Father’s Day gifts, consumers and the media took notice. To celebrate Father’s Day, T-Mobile launched an unprecedented promotion in the telecommunications world: every phone in every T-Mobile store would be free on June 19, the day before Father’s Day. As a company known for helping families stay connected, the offer was open to fathers or anyone in America signing up for, or adding to, a family plan. T-mobile tasked the Zeno Group with promoting the Free Phones for Father’s Day program and reaching a target audience of dads and families across the U.S. Armed with research and strategic thinking, Zeno secured remarkable broadcast, print and online media coverage, creating nationwide viral buzz and positive brand recognition for T-Mobile. The campaign successfully doubled T-Mobile’s one-day sales record and increased the day’s cumulative store traffic to 15 times the average.
• In a highly-saturated market with many direct competitors, T-Mobile and Zeno needed to find a way to stand out as the nation’s premier family-first, affordable communications company.
• With the one-day-only promotion, the window of opportunity to mobilize the press to cover the deal was limited to only a 5-day execution window.
• Consumers are typically wary of free offers, insisting they are “too good to be true,” so Zeno needed to prove the promotion’s believability by providing a clear outline on how to retrieve the free phones.
Zeno conducted a nationwide Omnibus Poll to gain insight into Dad’s frames of mind regarding Father’s Day gifts. Results revealed that 80% of fathers polled feared receiving another tie and 85% said their most coveted gift was a smart phone. Zeno identified the opportunity to reach the consumer through their desire to please their dads on Father’s Day and created a campaign around the theme “No More Ties for Father’s Day,” to drive home the fact that dads are tired of receiving ties and forgettable gifts for Father’s Day and want more exciting gifts that they will use, such as the latest smartphone.
• Drive brand awareness of T-Mobile’s Free Phones for Father’s Day program in execution window of 5 days for a 1-day promotion
• Garner national, broadcast, local, consumer, trade and business media coverage of the promotion and T-Mobile
• Help establish T-Mobile as one of the only family-first, affordable communications companies
• Develop a social media engagement and buzz program that creatively connects with Dads and their families
• The team sent a teaser mailer in a shirt box that contained a shirt and “ugly tie” to 70+ media and blogger influencers along with a tag that read: What do dads really want this Father’s Day? Hint: Not another ugly tie. T-Mobile knows what Dads want. One day only. June 19. Bloggers began posting creating buzz and anticipation.
• Zeno secured an Associated Press exclusive to confirm the rumors and used momentum to conduct extensive follow-up outreach with additional target publications, resulting in wide-spread coverage.
• To generate additional online awareness, the team partnered with a production company to create a “No More Ties” online video and seeded it virally through social networking sites. The team created the concept, finalized the script and collaborated with the production crew to capture the essence of the promotion on set.
• Additionally, seven top-ranked Dad bloggers were secured and featured on T-Mobile’s Facebook page each day during the week leading up to the promotion.
• The team selected NBA Hall of Famer and dad Bill Walton for an SMT. As anticipated, Walton garnered heavy media appeal as the SMT took place the day after the Lakers, (and Walton’s son Luke), won Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Walton’s messaging during the 23 interviews was family-focused and delivered a clear and credible call to action.
• Zeno managed the main event hosted at the Herald Square Store during which T-Mobile street teams distributed 1,000 free breakfasts and 2,000 flyers. A local radio station hosted a live remote with a T-Mobile-branded prize wheel and giveaways.
Summary of Results
Top Tier broadcast, print and online outlets covered the promotion including: Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, Associated Press, USA Today, New York Times, LA Times, TIME, Yahoo! News, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal Blog, Gizmodo and numerous additional outlets. PR Week even praised the campaign in a feature article, stating “on every level, this campaign was a win-win for T-Mobile and consumers.”
Overall, The PR team garnered impressive coverage of the promotion in print, online and broadcast outlets which resulted in the largest single day of sales in T-Mobile history. Total news coverage results included 516 articles with a total reach of 531 million, 275 broadcast mentions and placements with 14.3 million viewers and 545 million total impressions.
The campaign saw enormous social media success with a total potential reach of 32 million customers on Twitter and 534,000 customers on Facebook. In addition there were 1,300 new Twitter followers and an increased Tweet Volume 3.5 times from an average 2,500 a day to 8,500 a day during the week of the promotion. The “No More Ties” online video saw 75,000 views in the 5 days it was live. Featured dad bloggers were so positive about the experience most asked how they could continue to work with T-Mobile.
As a result of the campaign, sales on June 19 more than doubled T-Mobile's previous one-day record and cumulative store traffic in several markets increased to 15 times higher than average.
Peter Dobrow of T-Mobile praised Zeno Group for an extremely successful program, saying, “In a nutshell, this was the most-successful buzz-driving campaign for any promotion we’ve ever executed on, and the richest social media engagement for any promotion, product or service we’ve driven to date.”