Sky Broadband’s new campaign starts with a feeling - the exhilaration and thrill of speed - and takes it in all sorts of unexpected directions. The launch of Gigafast, its fastest ever broadband, sees it team up with the iconic yellow Minions and recreate that feeling with interactive bus stops, surprise slides and even a metaverse-y speed race in Fortnite.
Telecom giant Sky is the third biggest advertiser in the UK and Sky Broadband one of the biggest providers in the country - and the team at Sky Broadband have raised their creative ambitions to match. So as well as interpreting the Gigafast feeling with comedic TV spots and digital ads, the team has experimented with a number of playful executions.
At the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford, London, the team has installed a branded slide allowing shoppers to skip the stairs and whizz down at Gigafast speeds. And at the bottom of the steps, there’s a branded trail to the Sky retail outlet. Meanwhile, in the metaverse the team are gearing up to host a race in Fortnite, which kicks off in coming weeks and is set to offer up a substantial prize. And then there’s a blustery interactive bus stop that will blast commuters with whirls of air and give the illusion that it’s been hit with a burst of speed.
“The bus shelter is my favourite - it’s got a great sense of the campaign idea behind it, the Gigafast feeling,” enthuses Dave Stratton, Sky’s marketing director, broadband and connectivity. “So, it’s about what it really feels like to be on those ultra-fast speeds and really dramatising it. I think this stuff is a great example of how you can use a property like the Minions, how you can riff off that creative idea of the Gigafast feeling and really bring it to life in an engaging, immersive way.”
All of these different elements have come from a media strategy that Dave describes as 70/20/10, which sets aside a certain proportion of spend for innovative and boundary pushing creative. This allows the brand to both make use of the channels that they know work well while building the brand’s creative impact and keeping the marketing teams motivated, engaged and in a growth mindset.
“70% is the ‘now’, 20% is the ‘new’ and 10% is the ‘next’. So, of course, the bulk of our spend goes into the 70%, which is the standard channels, the stuff that’s tried and tested. We’ve got the econometrics, we know it’s going to work for us and a lot of that takes care of itself since now it’s highly automated. We put less spend into the 20 or 10, but that’s where a lot of the physical effort and the team’s time goes. Honestly, if you speak to the marketing teams, they want to work on the 20%,” says Dave.
“It’s a lot of effort to go and develop a metaverse campaign with Fortnite, with everything that involves. It’s a lot of effort to work in partnership with Westfield to do these very immersive stunts, but they’re the things that really excite the marketing teams. They enjoy spending their time learning a lot as they go through this process.”
And it’s clear that there’s been a lot of learning on the gaming and metaverse front. Gamers are a core audience for Sky Broadband - every gamer knows the importance of reliable, fast broadband. Aware of the current rush among marketing teams to experiment in the space, Dave is very clear about the reason behind Sky Broadband’s own venture into the metaverse and web3 space - he says that as an ‘endemic’ brand, it has permission to play.
And Dave has advice for brands considering getting into the gaming and metaverse spheres. “First of all, come back to the brief. In the first instance, does it really make sense for you as a brand with your target audience? Should your brand be in that space? The answer to that question was obviously yes because of the nature of our products and our service,” says Dave. “I would also say that it is very emergent. So you have to look at that as your 10% or your 20%. You have to take a bit of a risk there. It could potentially be high reward but you have to be prepared that it is an emerging channel and you are learning. Everybody’s learning in this space. Therefore you need to look at it and evaluate it as such.”
The campaign was brought to life with the help of creative agency Engine and media agency Mediacom. With just five months to pull all of the disparate elements together, Dave is full of praise for his agency partners. “It’s the pace of Sky for you! I should give a shout out to Engine and Mediacom, who have been absolutely fantastic partners all the way through this process. Of course those tight timescales are not possible without the support of people like Engine and Mediacom,” he says.
The partnership with the Minions - the giggling, be-goggled creatures from Dreamworks’ ‘Despicable Me’ franchise - has been going for nine years and has helped imbue something that’s become an essential service with a bit of fun and personality. And you can be sure that the Minions have a lot of fun across the various executions; they can be seen being flung from large outdoor billboards that appear to be blown apart and zipping down the side of the Westfield slide.
“What we really wanted to do is take what was great about that animation partnership and really take it to the next level, through delivering increased creativity and taking it outside of traditional outdoor and TV, looking to new formats and innovative use of those formats,” explains Dave.
Looking back to what that partnership has done for the brand, he adds: “I think that’s helped us get the brand to where it is today, which is one of the biggest telecom providers in the country. Broadband is an essential service at the end of the day. We’ve seen that more than ever before through covid, in that everybody relied on it. Therefore, what the animation vehicle and Minions do is they help us take that essential service and give it some personality and culture in the marketplace.”
And looking forward, Dave hints that this campaign is the first step for a re-energised creative ambition for the brand. “I think this is the start of a renewed vision of how we do things on Sky Broadband marketing. This is the start, there’ll be a lot more coming in this campaign and then, as we go forward over the course of the year and in future years. This is definitely an approach that we will be maintaining, so keep and out for us continuing to push the boundaries.”