Having a top-quality network with great coverage, speed and reliability is key for telco consumers. But as Skinny’s marketing team soon discovered, perceptions versus reality don’t always match up.

The Challenge

In telco, credibility is built around network performance and reliability. People don’t want to worry about coverage issues, slow speeds or losing connection. A concerningly low percentage of people thought Skinny had a credible network versus competitors in the market.

As a no-frills, price-lighter, Skinny is focussed on the ‘basic’ telco market, offering good quality mobile and broadband without the extras. 

Despite a successful re-brand in 2018, the Skinny team probed further discovering that people perceived the brand still to be not well established, or as popular as other telcos. Wanting to become a bigger player, Skinny’s future was back in doubt with parent

company Spark. So how to build credibility? Big brands like Spark and Vodafone benefit from their size – with people translating ‘big’ into ‘popular’, assigning positive attributes like credibility as a result. But Skinny wasn’t big. And without the budgets or physical stores to pretend to be big, it needed another solution.

So Skinny turned to what it had in spades; customer love. Skinny has the highest telco mNPS with customers regularly endorsing us to friends and family. Knowing the power of word of mouth, this got the marketing team thinking. ‘What if we could unleash the cult of our customers to endorse us at scale?’

The Response

Enter the new brand platform: Skinny Friendvertising. Recruiting 46 customers across a range of ages and ethnicities it shot and produced a suite of personalised ads from TVC s, DM flyers, street posters, social and digital assets. The telco then launched with its talent setting their campaigns live on their own social channels, mailing out DM flyers, digital re-targeting and local Out of Home. Then it went ATL and showed New Zealand all the faces of Skinny customers, endorsing the network.

Despite the challenges of a national Lockdown and complexities of managing 46 campaigns in one, the gamble to pivot its brand has paid off. With the help of customers, 400,000 more Kiwis now believe Skinny has a credible network resulting in consideration being the highest it’s ever been. And that’s just in mere months.

The Result

The Friendvertising campaign resulted in a massive shift in perceptions in just three months. More Kiwis now believe that Skinny offers a credible network, nudging the telco closer to nearest rival 2degrees. Interestedly, all other telcos either dropped or maintained credibility scores over the same time frame – this was not a category related trend.

Another positive shift was surpassing its target with more Kiwis now seeing Skinny as a brand for everyone. The strategy to use customer endorsements at scale has so far produced over 50,000 earned TVC views and a total of 60,000 social engagements in their personal social channels.

The campaign has also delivered on driving more interest in Skinny, with visits to the website from new users up YOY.

Entry details

Category: Utilities/Communications
Company: Skinny
Marketing Initiative: Skinny Friendvertising
Marketing Partners: PHD, Colenso BBDO, Platform29, TRA
Judge’s Comments: “With a gritty business challenge, Skinny demonstrated a winning strategy and execution plan which not only delivered results but was conducted in a way which was clearly ‘on-brand’.”
Finalist: Meridian Energy

This article was originally published in the December/January 2020 issue of NZ Marketing. You can subscribe to the magazine, here. Or read the other winner stories, here.

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