EE and BT’s first joint ad campaign since their merger presents a "win-win" for both brands but should not be mistaken as a new strategy of cross-marketing each other’s products, according to EE’s brand director Peter Jeavons.
Pairing EE’s long-time ambassador Kevin Bacon alongside BT Sport’s Rio Ferdinand, the campaign aims to entice new mobile customers and, potentially, future pay TV subscribers by offering those signed up to the mobile network free access to the BT Sport app for six months.
But while it may leverage BT’s desirable Premier League and Champions League football rights, and be jointly fronted by both brands’ star assets, this was a campaign led by EE’s distinct marketing team rather than a co-production.
Jeavons said: "It was an interesting process to go through because it’s very much an EE communication, an EE-branded campaign, but just so happens to use BT Sport as a proof point.
"If I’m honest it’s certainly not a strategy. It was a perfect opportunity to use the product. We’ve done it before with other brands – we’ve done it before on our TV stuff with Now TV, we’ve done it with Deezer.
"But it’s certainly not a strategy, if you like, to always be cross-selling BT products. We’re at great pains for it to be an EE communication. One of the things that we were very mindful of was that there was no misattribution about who this was from. It was always an EE communication to our customers, not a BT ad."
Though BT may not be the driver of the campaign, it could be the biggest beneficiary if EE customers become so taken with the sports coverage that they choose to sign up to a BT package to continue watching when their free trial ends. But on the flip side, Jeavons played down any suggestions that BT will begin to cross-sell EE mobile contracts as part of its own phone, TV and broadband packages.
“[That's] probably a bigger question to ask the BT guys. From my perspective, it’s just a perfect marriage of brilliant product that we know customers will love. Strategically, we’re looking for things to give our customers as recognition.”
The ‘joint’ campaign is not only the brands’ first work together since BT’s £12.5bn acquisition of EE was completed in January; it is also the first major new piece of activity from the mobile carrier since its marketing department was restructured in the wake of the deal.
Pippa Dunn, EE’s chief marketing officer, left after 12 years upon completion of the takeover, and brand director Spencer McHugh, who had effectively taken the reins in the interim, followed her to the exit in June. A week later, Jeavons, who was previously head of brand strategy and development, stepped into the vacancy.
There are no further significant changes planned to EE’s marketing department, Jeavons said, and he explained that his team operates as a standalone entity from that of its parent operation BT – albeit with the enviable advantage of being able to call on the bigger firm’s resources, such as access to its Stratford TV studios to shoot this campaign.
"I think we’re absolutely good as we are. As far as I’m concerned there’s no big changes [planned]. Marc [Allera, EE chief executive] announced his leadership team and that’s settling in really nicely.
"It was really good fun working on it. BT and EE-wise we don’t really have that much to do with each other because we’re effectively separate sides of the business and effectively competitors in that we’re competing brands. So actually working with the BT Sport guys, they were brilliant, and they helped open some doors with talent. It was a real collaborative effort."