In a quietly powerful new ad from Deutsche Telekom AG—the German parent of T-Mobile—Billie Eilish takes on stereotypes about young people in what amounts to a rallying cry for her generation’s passion and potential.
“Look at us,” she says in voiceover as her masterpiece, “When the Party’s Over,” plays. “Just a bunch of kids who are screen-obsessed. Disconnected. Not in the moment, right? Because, like, how can a generation that lives online know anything about the real world?” As she speaks, we see gorgeously shot scenes of, yes, seemingly screen-obsessed kids.
“We’re just clicking and swiping our way through life,” she continues. “Phones in our hands, and our heads in the cloud.” But then we see scenes of kids who absolutely do know about the real world, including a youth activist from the Netherlands speaking before lawmakers. And then Eilish pivots, flipping the script from the clichés: “But you know what? When it comes to what we really care about, the difference we can make means even more now.”
At this point Eilish herself appears on screen—in the form of a vertical-format video-within-the-video—and says, “So maybe next time they see us staring at a screen, and they ask us what we’re doing on it, why don’t we show them what we’re doing with it?”
The ad closes out with a tagline, “We’re here for this generation and what they do next,” followed by the Deutsche Telekom logo, just as the final, chill-inducing notes of “When the Party’s Over” play.
Tellingly, the campaign, created out of Saatchi, is presented as an Eilish-led collaboration—it’s titled “Billie Eilish x Telekom: What We Do Next”—and is accompanied on YouTube by a short interview video (below) starring Eilish and some of the young activists and entrepreneurs featured in the main ad.
If there’s any doubt this is not your usual telecom ad campaign, at one point in the interview video, Eilish offfhandedly says “Fuck yeah” as she speaks of her appreciation for her peers in the room.