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Why GiffGaff made an anti-consumerist ad ahead of Black Friday

Why GiffGaff made an anti-consumerist ad for Black Friday

Mobile carrier firm GiffGaff is urging the public to ‘Check Your Drawers’ this Black Friday, in a unique campaign that actually discourages wasteful consumption. It is looking to get millions thinking more about creating a circular economy in mobiles and serves as a highly unusual message in one of the most hallowed periods of consumer excess.

Georgina Bramall, head of brand strategy at GiffGaff, and Nick Wright, managing director of JUMP (Havas Media Group's content and partnerships division) talked The Drum through why GiffGaff is going against the grain during the most vital point in the e-commerce calendar.

To begin, due to the rampant digitisation accelerated by the pandemic, and in England, a second lockdown, online retailers expect a 45% Black Friday boost this year. From a marketing standpoint, it's likely going to be the most competitive Black Friday period ever, the fortunes of retailers hang in the balance after a few months of bleak performance. With this in mind, GiffGaff has created a campaign that will absolutely oppose most of the advertising we're likely to see.

In researching this campaign, through media partner LadBible, GiffGaff found that around 55m phones are laying around homes and drawers in the UK. It reckons there are about £598 per drawer (some drawers house many phones).

So, once it identified a problem in its immediate sector, it built a campaign looking to encourage customers to recycle or refurbish these phones – baiting audiences with the option of helping to solve climate change and can earn you a bit of extra cash either for a Black Friday purchase or a charity.

Bramall says: “Consumers are becoming more demanding and are expecting brands to act more responsibly. I think we're incredibly conscious in the telco space, but there's a lot we can do to act much more responsibly and much more sustainably. We have the environmental impact of our business front and centre within everything that we do.”

GiffGaff partnered with LadBible group to tailor and distribute the message among its “savvy, progressive audience of 25 to 44-year-olds”. LadBible's had a lot of luck working with partners in the mobile space, and appears to be the go-to place to land a mobile campaign, especially one with a degree of social purpose within it created to position GiffGaff as a disruptor and innovator in the telecoms sector.

The anti-consumerist content is led by Manga Saint Hilare and takes a humorous, tongue-in-cheek tone of voice. It will run across LadBible and Unilad’s Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channels, with a takeover of the LadBible.com site planned for Black Friday.

Bramall is aware that the pandemic may have further driven purpose demands of consumers. It's been part of GiffGaff’s positioning for a few years now.

She says: “The pandemic has promoted quite a lot of consumers to reflect about what's truly important to them. And we are a massively insight-led brand. We're very attuned to what our members are asking what they're sort of demanding of brands.”

In the phone industry, there is a perception (by no accident) that people need to upgrade their handsets every two years, which takes a lot of perfectly functional devices out of circulation. But even the broken ones have their uses. So there are three (official) strands to the campaign: one is encouraging people to trade in their devices for Christmas credit, they can also direct donations to charity or pointing consumers at mobile recycling points if there is no value in the device.

It will also have Black Friday deals for a secret fourth tier of the campaign… those who find a device that can renter circulation, perhaps for a distant relative who is in lockdown. There's good in giving an old device life too.

JUMP's Wright talks up the fit with LadBible, which developed the campaign in line with its editorial tone. “Audiences are fickle and are on the pulse. They will block it out if it doesn't feel like it's adding value or is negatively disrupting their lives. This piece is engaging entertainment. It feels like a true partnership, and it feels like it's something that's actually adding value.

“It isn't about selling products. It very much is an anti-Black Friday narrative. It is against this very commercial side of Black Friday. This is a very meaningful way of landing around this cultural moment.”

The Check Your Drawers campaign will later take to TV in GiffGaff’s fun and informative style. This isn’t a one and done effort, Bramall sees this as a unique talking point about the GiffGaff brand.

“This trading mechanic is very much the starting chapter of what we are working towards. From 2021 onwards, you're really focusing on that second economy for phones and giving consumers a real choice."

Wright also reflects on how there is a payoff in seeing brave brands with conviction getting into new ways of doing things early (like the circular economy). He points to Patagonia's closure on Black Friday (which dialed up sales in the longterm) as a source of inspiration.

The efforts are built upon last year’s experiential output, a pop-up. In the following year, it has made a marked move away from “weird” more towards purpose. There were lessons from the pop-up activation - even if it wasn't an option this year due to the lockdowns.

Bramall concludes: “This is GiffGaff's second year of pushing against societal norms. We got a ton of insight back from the activity.”

Watch Check Your Drawers below.

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