In launching its Vodafone Firsts global brand strategy, the British telecommunications company naturally wanted its first promotional salvo to be a spectacular one. So in conjunction with agency Wasserman, the mayor of London, and other partners it kicked off both the branding strategy and the year 2014 with a series of bangs: a multisensory accompaniment to London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display.
The 250,000 attendees along London’s Victoria Embankment received an “experience pack” that engaged all the senses. Included were a scratch-and-sniff card and a pack of seven fruit-flavored candies, along with instructions as to when during the display participants should use these elements, as synchronized with the colors of the display, and an LED wristband that flashed in time with the fireworks. Vodafone and food artists Bompas & Parr also created flavoring mists that were dispersed (thanks to another partner, Quantum SFX) over the crowd at predetermined times during the display. The fireworks finished with a shower of the world’s first edible (not to mention halal and kosher) confetti.
For the two hours prior to the fireworks display, Vodafone organized a video countdown program, which it projected against the Shell Centre. Beginning with an introduction from London mayor Boris Johnson, the program explored London firsts and showed tweets and videos of things people had promised to undertake for the first time in the coming year. To ensure that people who weren’t in London—or even in the UK—could also enjoy the experience, Vodafone and digital agency AKQA developed an app that featured the fireworks.
Eighteen of Vodafone’s 21 international markets promoted the event; for instance, Vodafone in Turkey sent 1.7 million SMSs inviting people to download the app. The total media reach was estimated at 639 million, and 66% of attendees felt more favorable toward Vodafone after the event, with not a single person surveyed thinking less favorably of the brand.