Giffgaff's 'Ode to Bad' Is a Witty Way to Promote Good Behavior

Maybe other mobile telecoms should take note

There's this Kanye West song called "Runaway." In the style of Sinatra's "My Way," it romanticizes bad behavior that the singer wistfully regrets: "Let's have a toast for the jerkoffs that'll never take work off. Baby, I've got a plan: Run away as fast as you can."

"Ode to Bad," by British mobile network Giffgaff, with help from Neverland, feels kind of like that … except without the wistful part, because it's actually trying to put good over evil.

Directed by Nick Bell, the bleak ambiance pays homage to line-cutters, obnoxious white-collar men who drink too much, price-hikers, and the like. It ends with a nary-nice-looking man who appears to be stalking another human in a tunnel. But when he reaches his quarry, it's to give back the phone he dropped.

"Thanks, bad," the narrator concludes. "But we'll take it from here."

"Giffgaff's new brand positioning comes at a key time for consumers, when pricing is no longer the only driving factor when looking for a new product. They're looking for value and values from the businesses they put their trust in," explains Alexa Ponking, the telecom's joint head of brand and advertising.

The ad introduces a new campaign and tagline, "We're Up to Good." Ponking says the positioning "provides a range of angles to demonstrate the positive lessons we've learned from bad behavior. It also represents an evolution of Giffgaff's core beliefs while continuing to put our members at the heart of everything we do by connecting to our key values."

The end of the spot says something about treating people better, but doesn't go into much colorful detail (sort of like Dante spending more time talking about hell than paradise).

For all that, the brand's trying to invest a sensibility of "goodness" into every touchpoint it can. That's complicated work, and explanations get boring. We appreciate that they'd prefer to demur. Selecting a mobile provider is something people do with healthy helpings of word of mouth, and also personal research. The brand's site—unlike other telecom sites we've seen—does a fine job of highlighting Giffgaff's benefits.

Giffgaff launched in 2009. Per the brand’s own admission, it was "massively disruptive" in British telecoms. Mobile service providers often feel like a bunch of price-fixing cartels that hate everybody, but Giffgaff introduced consumers into how the network was run, which was already a big step in turning things around.

It recently also declared itself a B Corp, focused on what people actually want from mobile services. Among other things, these include fixed prices to avoid surprise hikes, and giving people the option to opt for refurbished phones.

Giffgaff also prioritizes working with sustainability-focused partners—a sizable commitment in the category. We're reminded of the launch of Fair Phone, which sought to make a completely sustainable mobile handset. (Their first challenge, upon launching, was realizing that it's virtually impossible.) Giffgaff also champions the U.K. Advertising Association's industry-wide initiative All In, designed to foster inclusivity in advertising.

"Ode to Bad" will run on TV, in cinemas, on VOD platforms, via outdoor ads, and across all Giffgaff’s digital and social media platforms. The creative was designed to be as accessible as possible for people with visual impairments; its multi-channel media strategy with MG OMD is focused on "responsible reach." Every ad click unlocks a charity donation of the brand's choice.

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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