The viral marketing trade-off: T-Mobile focuses on humorous video content at the expense of explicit product information

The viral marketing trade-off: T-Mobile focuses on humorous video content at the expense of explicit product information

In its latest TV advert T-Mobile continues to engage consumers through entertaining video content, but fails to generate significant brand and product discussion, due to insufficient information about the ‘You Fix’ plan it aims to promote. This highlights a dilemma faced by viral marketers and the difficulty in striking a balance between informative and entertaining video content.

Earlier this year, WaveMetrix explored the viral marketing strategies used by brands such as Ford, T-Mobile and Sony, and uncovered the trade-off that these brands face when devising their campaigns. Viral content that places the brand or its products more centrally tends to stimulate more brand and product discussion, but is less likely to go viral and is often greeted with scepticism by consumers. On the other hand, content that arouses more emotion, but which only promotes the brand very subtly, tends to spread more easily and be received more positively, but is less likely to be linked back to the brand and its products. T-Mobile creates humour in its latest advert by secretly filming motorists’ reactions as ‘traffic wardens’ unfairly issue them with parking tickets, which turn out to contain money rather than fines. A voiceover at the end of the clip states, ‘nobody likes nasty surprises’ and links this to T-Mobile’s 'You Fix' plan.

Wavemetrix analysis reveals that, just like T-Mobile’s previous royal wedding spoof, the parking ticket viral successfully engages consumers, who are extremely positive about the “hilarious” advert. However, discussion surrounding the 'You Fix' plan, and T-Mobile’s products and brand in general, is comparatively low and very negative.
The latest T-Mobile viral generates high levels of viral content discussion, but low levels of brand and product discussion, just like T-Mobile’s previous ‘royal wedding’ viral:
  • Just like T-Mobile’s royal wedding spoof, the vast majority of discussion around the parking ticket viral is around the video itself: 86% of discussion focuses on the “hilarious”, “awesome” advert, which some consider to be “the best practical joke ever” 
  • Only 14% of discussion is around T-Mobile and its products explicitly: the only reference to T-Mobile and the 'You Fix' plan comes at the end of the video. As a result, there is very low level brand/product discussion 
  • Those that do discuss T-Mobile and its products tend to be very negative: the money theme of the commercial generates negative brand discussion, such as one consumer’s complaint that, “that’s my money! T-Mobile charged me £10 for nothing last month” 
Consumers are mostly positive about T-Mobile’s marketing expertise and its ability to produce such a cool/fun viral, but some are led to feel distrust towards the brand:
  • Consumers see T-Mobile and its marketing as cool/fun and expert: Almost 40% of discussion draws on the cool/fun feeling of the advert and almost 40% draws on T-Mobile’s marketing expertise 
  • The practical joke viral leads to feelings of distrust towards T-Mobile: 7% of discussion links T-Mobile and its marketing to feelings of distrust, with some alleging T-Mobile “stole” the idea for the advert, some arguing the advert is “fake”, using actors rather than real people, and others claiming that T-Mobile has overcharged them in the past

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