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Phil Bilbrough: Tease me XT

Tease me XT

By Phil Bilbrough [1]
Advertising.Scoop.co.nz [2]

Telecom’s introduction of their new mobile broadband network, “XT [3]” has caused some very welcome ripples in this pond of recession.

Richard Hammond of Top Gear [4] fronts this campaign. The concept is that Hammond test drives things, from cars to boats to aircraft, (you sail a boat and pilot a plane) and now he is going to put XT through its paces. Will he independently evaluate XT? No no don’t be silly – he has sold out.

My first thoughts were that he looked sleepy. There is a hard-last-night quality about his XT look. He is an appealing guy, his voice over lacked the sarcasm of Top Gear, yet those Hammond nuances are there, as is his enthusiasm and fun, and he has a measure of worldliness as I couldn’t forget how he almost died when a jet propelled car that he was driving (testing) crashed [5].

He is still a fresh face, an up-in-coming celeb for New Zealanders and has some credibility as a quasi-technical person, and to my knowledge, he hasn’t lost any street-cred by prancing on and off stage on Dancing with the Stars (or the UK equivalent, “Strictly Come Dancing [6]“).

Those atmospheric black and white images of stadiums, toi toi, tracks, tanks, and boats are coolly post-apocalyptic and are suspense filled. What’s coming? XT. Though I chose to save-up my tension for something actually tense. There might have been some tension there had it got to the point sooner. My take-out wasn’t excitement but one of “I’m not waiting this.” Post-apocalyptic becomes post-bus.

TheTest Drive [7] site’s OK, light on info, but it is a teaser campaign and I like a bit of teasing. I’m intrigued just enough to wonder what Hammond is going to do next. Despite me and despite the rest of this blog, this campaign has success written all over it. The key ingredient – Richard Hammond – ensures that New Zealanders will lap it up.

Why does Telecom need an XT brand? Is 3G ho-hum now? Like its just like so 5 minutes ago. Probably because Vodafone can also have 3G and won’t be able to have “XT”. Vodafone will have 3.1G. XT will still be a Telecom product, and if Telecom stop building the XT brand, XT will sucked in by one Telecom’s tentacles, never to return. The XT ad agency takes the cash and the public wonder whatever happened to that “Richard Hammond” campaign.

Vodafone and Telecom had a legal dust-up over the introduction of the new XT network. Vodafone claimed Telecom’s XT network was causing interference to their network. The matter was settled out of court [8] and resulted in Telecom adding more technology (more filters) to specific mobile sites and pushing out the go-live date of XT. Telecom claimed the PR points, [9] and Bill Ralston agreed [10].

Bernard Hickey (writing for NZherald.co.nz) [11] is fed-up with Telecom. I suppose that Telecom launching another faster better world riled him or maybe he just saw empty promises. Judging by the large number of comments that his blog received (both for and against Bernard) – Telecom and telecommunications are top of mind topics for New Zealanders.

A Telecom and Vodafone stoush is like feudal lords dividing up serfs. Over charged under serviced customers don’t need to be reassured that their telco can win at PR. Overall it was a hi-tech launch that got delayed. A technology where reliability and a continuous connectivity count. One that was going to be “tested” by the best – or at least Richard Hammond – how can a delay and the requirement for more technical installations be good PR? I think that Telecom let down their solid XT launch campaign.


Advertising.scoop.co.nz. [12]He can be contacted at phil@scoop.co.nz [13].

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