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Mobile carrier Three has carved out new brand purpose – 'Three The Fun' – that it believes will help it resonate with UK audiences and re-establish it as a challenger brand. To do so it has embraced high-profile app partners that can deliver unique incentives and experiences to customers. 

Shadi Halliwell, chief marketing officer at Three, who joined from Harvey Nichols in 2017, opened up on a new PSA-style marketing campaign based around the premise that ‘Phones Are Good’, telling The Drum: "Using your phone isn't a problem."

While extensive mobile phone usage is commonly linked to mental health and wellbeing issues, Three and Wieden+Kennedy London have taken a step back in time to show just how convenient these devices – and associated apps – are. The aim is to alleviate the guilt many feel while enjoying their smartphones. In a saturated mobile space (generating £35.6bn in revenue in 2016), Three is championing these devices to get a foot up over the likes of EE, O2, Vodafone.

"Using your phone isn't a problem. We are targeting people who can see through all the nonsense, it's not for the fools that said watching TV will turn your eyes square or that masturbating will make you go blind – we believe phones are good."

In the latest campaign, vital historical points have been reimagined with smartphones, including starving cavemen ordering Deliveroo, Henry VIII’s wives staving off execution with the implementation of Tinder, and Moses parting the Red Sea for an unmissable Snap Story.

Noticeable here is the inclusion of app partners, an evolution of Three's Puggerfly cyberpet partnership with Snapchat and its easyJet travel perks released earlier this year.

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“Partnerships are the new sponsorship model, now is the time to shake hands with some of these really big brands that bring experiences in a different way,” Halliwell said. To this end, Samsung, Instagram, Deliveroo, Snapchat, LinkedIn and Tinder all feature in some way and are building further activations around their participation.

The campaign launches on mobile first on 17 October – “we are mobile first after all,” said Shadi. The next day, work will roll out on TV, across social, digital, cinema and out of home.

On her time in the role, which has included transitional work featuring hybrid animals, she said: “In the last 12 months, we are showing that we want great partnerships and we will deliver those well for our customers. In parallel, our company purpose will take us forward. I had to go right back into our past 15 years and get a lot of company people to come up with the right answer. Our new purpose is 'Three the Fun'. The freedom to explore, experience and be more, that is what a phone is all about.”

She also reflected on the need for a new purpose, harkening back to 2015’s ‘Make it Right’ campaign featuring Jackson the puppet (below).


“That was too restrictive for us as a business because we are a challenger brand and should be able to challenge everything. Equally, we can’t make everything right in the mobile industry, so in a world where customers can see through that it is not a truth you want to continue with.”

The new spots were directed by Ian Pons Jewell. Friend handled production and Mindshare bought the media.

Adding to the work, London painter Reuben Dangoor has reimagined historical figures and paintings through the mobile lens of today’s social media profile pictures. These will be displayed in a gallery at 13 Soho Square from 26-27 October.

Furthermore, there will also be takeovers in retail stores across Glasgow, Belfast, Manchester, Liverpool, Cardiff and London. Customers will also be invited to bring their phones to stores for a Phone Spa experience.

Halliwell concluded: “We have just under 11 million customers in the UK, we want them to reappraise and choose us. We had to stand for something, we had to tackle network perceptions because they are not true in the real world, and we had to grow up.

“This is a really good conversation to have with customers. This is a conversation that will take us out of the industry. I've been in the industry for 24 years, at 02, BT and BT Cellnet. After returning, I realised how dull the mobile industry was – we're not dull.”

Vote for it below in The Drum's Creative Works. 

: 'Phones Are Good'

Date: October 2018
‘Phones Are Good’, Three’s new campaign created with Wieden+Kennedy London, is taking on the haters and bringing some balance to the debate. Because of course we shouldn’t be on our phones 24/7, but if it weren’t for your mobile how would you find love lounging on the sofa? Buy new shoes while sitting on the toilet? Or get a chicken cooked, seasoned, garnished and delivered to your door at the drop of a thumb?
Creative Director Hollie Walker
Creatives Tom Bender, Tom Corcoran
Executive Creative Directors Ian Tait, Tony Davidson
Group Account Director Paulo Salomao
Account Director Lauren Ivory
Account Manager Lara Wahab
Strategy Director Andy Wright
Strategist Rachel Hamburger
Comms Planner Lee Ramsay
TV Producer Richard Adkins
TV Production Assistant Aran Patterson
Print Producers Rowan Ferraz
Design Director Ryan Teixeira
Artworker Jhy Turley
Senior Business Affairs Manager Alex Coomer
Production Company Friend London
Director Ian Pons Jewell
Executive Producer Luke Jacobs
Producer Jon Adams
Director of Photography Mauro Chiarello
Production Designer Mark Connell
Costume Designer Ameena Callender
Service Company Radioaktive Film
Edit Company Cut & Run
Editor Ben Campbell
Edit Assistant Chris Hutchings
Edit Producer Ruth Minkley
VFX Company Time Based Arts
VFX Supervisor James Allen
VFX Head of Production Josh Robinson
VFX Production Assistant Sean Ewins
Lead VFX Artist Luke Todd
Colourist Simone Grattarola
Flame Artists Matt Jackson, Leo Weston, David Birkhill, Stephen Grasso, Jamie Crofts
Nuke Artists Leandro Vazquez, Matt Shires, Bernardo Varela, Sarah Breakwell, George Cressey, Ralph Briscoe, Manolo Perez
CG Artists Oscar Diez, James Spillman, Mike Battcock, Jon Park, James Mann, Nigel Timms, Daniel Davie, Gareth Bell, Cesar Eiji Nunes, David Loh, Michael Hunault, Federico Guzzardo, Florian Mounie, Dan Hope
Matte Painters Lisa Ayla, Sylvie Minois
AFX Jess Gorick (TBA) Stu Greenwood (W+K) Andrei Veriotti (W+K) Laurence Mence (W+K)
Sound Company 750mph
Sound Designer Sam Ashwell, Jake Ashwell Sound Producer Mary-Ann D’Cruz
Music Supervisor John Connon @ Mr. Pape
Tags: UK