Ad of the week – Three

by Stratton Craig

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What creates the greatest ad recall? The product certainly has a huge role to play but the language and tone of voice are often what make campaigns stick. I certainly always remember adverts that make me laugh – copy that resonates with an emotion rather than a need is often much more effective. Humour can often be a great way of encouraging customers to buy into a product or service without a campaign feeling like a hard sell.
Three’s most recent ‘We’re Sorry’ campaign applies this technique to great effect. The mobile network brand apologises on behalf of its customers who are using their phones abroad at no extra cost, and thus inundating those left at home with holiday snaps. Three is supposedly ‘mortified’ at the inconvenience cause, stating: ‘we were trying to help but we failed to consider the consequences’. Although puns are usually considered the ‘cardinal sin’ of copywriting (as mentioned in our Morrisons Ad of the Week blog), Three’s #holidayspam is a playful and humorous reference to holiday ‘hot dog leg’ photos. It’s knowingly and unashamedly silly.
The campaign continued with a series of 30-second add-ons to the original minute-long ad. Three includes apologies for a plethora of cocktail photographs featuring ‘tiny umbrellas’, ‘bendy straws’ and ‘sugared-rims’, as well as other apologies for ‘plane wings’, ‘beach feet’ and ‘hairy navels’. They even go as far as to suggest that their ‘Feel at Home’ abroad tariffs have induced an ailment known as TSD – travel selfie disorder.
These video adverts have been supported by a print letter ad that ashamedly admits full responsibility for the holiday spam and pleads that Three customers ‘brag responsibly’. It has an assumed level of rapport and the colloquial language is accessible, using social media terms the modern reader is already familiar with, e.g. #nofilters. Three has also created a supporting holiday spam crisis centre website, where all the video content (and more) is hosted.
Humorous copy is likely to create a stronger impression on a reader. It doesn’t feel like Three is trying too hard to be clever, which is genius in itself. The language used shows awareness of social media trends and the copy itself feels like a friend would say it. That’s the key. It feels so natural you don’t immediately imagine a team of copywriters getting their heads together to create it. It’s seemingly effortless, which I think generally means a huge amount of time has been invested into it!
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