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‘A nod to resilience’: O2 Business campaign spotlights owners getting back to normal

A new TV spot from O2 business heralds the work of businesses across the country as lockdowns come to an end. Allie Lawson, head of brand and marcomms, explains the strategy behind the ad.

O2 Business has rolled out a multi-million-pound campaign as a nod to the resilience of business owners large and small over the past year as they prepare to re-open.

At the heart is a TV ad which follows the journey of sole trader, Ted, whose shop has been forced to close. It shows Ted struggling to adjust his business to introduce the O2 robot, Bubl who supports him through this transition.

“We wanted to tap into that new-found optimism that we’re all now feeling and show how O2 Business can help in that journey to life becoming a bit more normal again,” said head of brand and marcomms, Allie Lawson.

The decision to promote the flexibility O2 offers business owners was built on the back of research it commissioned from the Centre for Economic Business. It found that, on average, inappropriate fixed-term contracts represent 16.2% of monthly business costs, with an average of 35.4% of small businesses agreeing that their phone costs remained the same even when headcount falls.

“Businesses all around the UK have had to completely shift how they work, some having to get past that lump in their throat and shut down – hopefully temporarily – altogether. It’s not just been a year of adaptability; it’s been a year of building resilience. Our campaign is both a nod to that, whilst also highlighting how we can help make things just that little bit easier,” added Lawson.

The advert first airs on Friday evening [23 April], with key spots during Coronation Street on ITV1 alongside ITV2 movies over the weekend and continue its run across social, retail, PR and online in coming months.

A new direction for O2 Business

The telecoms giant’s B2B marketing division is still relatively new, having only launched in 2019 to consolidate its services. But this work serves to show O2 Business is embarking on a new direction that will lean into the parent company’s well-established brand.

“Since joining, I’ve also been on a mission to make our SMB marcomms more integrated across segments, leveraging O2’s iconic masterbrand assets, and really making sure our SMB marcomms have that O2 charm. While we know the rational element is perhaps more important than in consumer advertising, the emotional side of things is still very important – after all, we’re talking to people,” said Lawson.

“But these challenges are what makes our proposition unique; the ability to cater for a business’ needs in both the good times and the bad. This, combined with a desire to show the realities of businesses changing, and the resilience and optimism that we so many of our customers demonstrate, was important.”

For Lawson, it’s only the second piece of work to come from the brand since she joined O2 Business from Direct Line last May and the first piece that has seen it appear on TV screens. Pulling it off was no mean feat, given she has yet to meet her new colleagues outside of Microsoft Teams and had to manage the brief and shoot remotely. However, testing the waters with a smaller scale campaign last year helped establish what Lawson described as the “rhythm of strong client/agency relationships” with creative shop VCCP.

“We spent most of last summer working on a campaign that launched last September, and as soon as that happened we got the buzz of seeing our key KPIs shift in the direction we hoped they would given how relevant we felt our new flexible offering was,” she said.

“We collectively felt this really strong desire to build on it, stretch our ambition for O2 Business further, and tell more people about the great products we’re offering – it felt really in-tune with O2’s customer centricity, given how flexibility has morphed into this invisible lifeline that we know businesses need right now.

“So by the time we turned our attention to developing this bigger campaign, we were so bonded by motivation to push ourselves that we’d incidentally created a strong working relationship, and that’s half the challenge with producing great campaign work.”