2008 Creative Marketers: Orange

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Even before his promotion this past July to head of brand communications at U.K.-based mobile giant Orange, Spencer McHugh (pictured), a six-year vet of the company, was hard at work drafting and implementing the telecom firm's new marketing strategy, "Together We Can Do More." The concept has spread through all media, including a recent spot out of Fallon, London featuring cyclist Mark Beaumont, and, perhaps most notably, in campaigns like "Balloonacy," an internet balloon race created in conjunction with digital partner Poke. The race challenged visitors to pick an animal avatar then veer through and collect points in several user-submitted sites over a course of 13 days.

According to McHugh, the Balloonacy effort was a direct reflection of the brand's gradual shift toward the digital space, social-themed creative and storytelling. "We've been positioning our brand [so] we could do more technically with social connections and get more out of individuals. Technology is a driving undercurrent of the way people are behaving, but it's also something we could exploit from a marketing/communications perspective. That's certainly something over the last year that we've really focused our positioning and projects on."

But signs of Orange's digitally-minded approach first started to appear nearly a year ago on the highly involved Unlimited site that promoted Orange's mobile offerings. The seemingly infinite destination, also developed by Poke, led visitors on a winding, colorful trail filled with odd characters, games, widgets and more. "What was really pleasing was that it was the first step on a journey and followed the strategy we [created]," McHugh recalls. "We wanted people to experience the brand online and not just tell them what we had. We could've easily done a microsite explaining a little bit more about what products we've got. But we wanted to make something a bit more entertaining. The Unlimited site does all of that by emphasizing a straightforward, practical message in a very sharable, of-the-moment kind of way."

While Orange's Web efforts have been key to its brand building, McHugh believes overall it's important to stay media-neutral and encourage cross-collaboration between agencies. "We're a large brand with a large customer base. It's not clear-cut for us just to say one channel is preferred over another. We have continued to increase our investment in online and digital marketing in the last few years, and I imagine that will continue as our audience moves online and digital becomes central to what we do. But that doesn't come necessarily at the expense of TV or other traditional media. We're very agnostic when it comes to media selection; we just use what's best for the job at hand."

Read about Upper Playground, another of our 2008 Creative Marketers.
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