Three UK marketing chief urges brands to stop 'chasing cheap success' and create moments that matter

Too many brands are still “playing it safe or chasing cheap success” when it comes to marketing, according to Thomas Malleschitz, a judge at The Drum Marketing Awards 2015 and director of marketing at Three, the mobile operator behind colossal marketing successes #DancePonyDance, Sing it Kitty and #HolidaySpam.

“A lot of brands aren’t thinking about building the brand and its purpose long term,” he explained. “You need a clear brand purpose, segmentation and, of course, the backing of your board to create cut-through or disruptive or risky marketing moments.”

Three's #DancePonyDance has over 10 million views on YouTube

Three introduced its ‘Silly Stuff Matters’ mantra in 2013 and though it has enjoyed success with #DancePonyDance and Sing it Kitty the brand has also dealt with public backlash when its ‘wives and girlfriends’ (WAG) zones in stores during the 2014 World Cup was criticised for sexism.

Installed into half of its 345 retail stores the WAG zones featured ‘female friendly’ devices and were intended to help the brand piggyback on the football tournament. Following their removal a Three spokesperson said they were meant to be “a bit of fun...but we got it wrong”.

As a brand Three is “constantly evolving, learning, adapting and changing” said Malleschitz, which from time to time does lead to errors.

Regarding Three’s current approach to marketing Malleschitz explained: “we always say what would Three be like if it were a person at the bar or in the pub?

“As an approach it’s not for all brands but we believe having a personality is helping us create an emotional connection with our audience”.

Having a distinct brand personality like Three is no mean feat remarked Malleschitz with “5,000 people in the company” and “2,000 people in our stores”.

“You have to bring everyone on board, all the agencies and so on, you have to make sure everyone understands and embraces what you’re trying to achieve and then you have to work out the strengths of each media channel and how it fits with that personality. It’s a long process,” he added.

Focusing on the brand’s advertising, which it creates with Wieden+Kennedy, Malleschitz revealed delivering “emotional fun and enjoyment” is front of mind for Three.

Three's latest advertising campaign from Wieden+Kennedy promotes its free data roaming

“Advertising is usually during the breaks, it is disturbing and can be annoying if you don’t deliver any emotional fun or enjoyment you run the risk of being overseen and the brand will stand for nothing,” he commented.

Speaking as a judge at this year’s The Drum Marketing Awards Malleschitz revealed that he is keen to see “enjoyable, mind boggling and disruptive communication” and was dreading an onslaught of “silly stuff that doesn’t matter”.

“The biggest mistake any entrant in The Drum Marketing Awards could make would be something that you could argue is funny but there is no message and no clear indication of what the brand stands for or is selling. If there’s nothing behind the work that’s definitely not something I would appreciate,” he said.

The deadline for entries to The Drum Marketing awards is Friday 30 January 30 at 5pm, with an awards ceremony set for 7 May in central London. Get your entries in here.

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