Cannes Lions

Don't mention the iPhone

MEC UK, London / VODAFONE / 2017

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Vodafone took the bold decision on this display campaign to advertise the launch of the iPhone, without showing or mentioning the iPhone product it wanted to sell or the Apple brand.

This meant that Vodafone could reach people anywhere on the internet wherever they were, not just on Apple’s pre-approved websites – extending our potential reach from 4m to 44m.

Apple was already supporting the iPhone 7 launch with an £8.47m ATL awareness campaign. All this activity meant that consumers would be well aware a new iPhone was launching.

We also assumed, based on previous iPhone launches, that competitor telcos would run ads featuring the iPhone – meaning we would be completely unique in targeting iPhone prospects across websites outside of Apple’s selected list.

We knew that if we advertised during the mega-hype surrounding an iPhone launch created by Apple and the other networks, we could generate conversion for Vodafone without actually mentioning the product.

The only way to make this strategy work, was to find out who was in the market for an iPhone at the time of the iPhone 7 launch. For this we needed data.


To ensure our data was exclusive and unique, Vodafone invested an unprecedented 40% of display campaign budget on data alone.

We created unbranded programmatic surveys with a simple question: ‘Ready for a smartphone upgrade? What would you choose?’ Giving users the option to tell us which phone they wanted.

We collected 150k unique survey respondents stating they wanted to purchase the iPhone 7. Please see confidential information *2

Surveys were delivered evenly to EE, O2, Three and Vodafone customers on iPhone 5/6’s and Samsung S6/7’s, allowing us to optimise our media by network and device. We only delivered surveys to mobile handsets that had been active for 18-24 months, knowing these contracts would soon end.

Previous results indicated these people are 83% more likely to upgrade than the average population. Responses were collected in the week leading up to pre-order to ensure the data was fresh.

From the moment the iPhone 7 pre-order period launched, we instantly targeted our respondents with Vodafone branded ads directing them to the Vodafone website. These said simply: “Waiting for a new phone? We have the latest Pay Monthly Smartphones.”


We knocked it out of the park – making this not only the most successful iPhone display campaign for Vodafone, but moreover Vodafone’s most successful display campaign ever.

• We achieved Vodafone’s lowest ever CPA, 900% lower than the 2015 iPhone 6 launch (smashing the 10% objective).

• 80% of all sales were completely incremental (unique); exceeding the target of 20% fourfold. This means no other channel had any touchpoint in the pathway to purchase; a clear demonstration that by intelligently capturing data we were able to reach untouched, ‘in-market’ audiences.

• 2.7% of the 3.15m unique users reached by this campaign visited a Vodafone store. Overall people exposed were 408% more likely to have visited a Vodafone store than a control group.

• Research demonstrated exposed competitor customers were 300% more likely to visit a Vodafone store than a competitor control sample.

• Please see confidential information *3

• Please see confidential information *4

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