Interview: EE Marketing MD on a new era of BT and embracing a new identity

Mobile Marketing Magazine speaks with the Managing Director of Marketing at EE and BT Consumer Brands, Christian Thrane to discuss phasing out the BT brand, influencer partnerships and market impact, following comments made by CEO, Marc Allera, claiming customers are “not sentimental” about losing the BT brand.

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From BT to EE: a strategic realignment

The transformation of BT into EE is much more than a simple rebranding exercise, according to Thrane, who has been with the telecoms giant since 2020.

It signifies a strategic realignment designed to optimise BT’s consumer business in response to industry challenges and evolving customer behaviours.

The journey began in 2016 when BT acquired EE, but it wasn’t until 2018 that the two entities were fully integrated. This integration aimed to align products, propositions, and branding under one cohesive umbrella.

Thrane explains: “Our role was to consolidate and streamline operations under the EE brand, focusing on innovation and redefining our approach to customer engagement.”

Meanwhile, the move includes the introduction of initiatives to enhance digital experiences for customers. By consolidating under one brand, EE and BT can simplify its operations and present a unified front to its customers, he says.

On customer reception

Recently, EE boss Marc Allera, claimed its customers are not sentimental” about losing the BT brand following its acquisition.

He said: “We’re effectively rebranding a national institution. Most are aware of the changes and they understand it” claiming the telecoms business has not “seen much resistance”.

However, according to Thrane, despite some customers’ sentimental attachment to the BT brand, EE is being increasingly recognised for its modern and innovative approach.

He explains: “While some customers may have sentimental attachments, our focus has been on establishing EE as a modern, innovative brand. Our market research indicates growing consideration for EE in mobile and broadband services.”

He continues: “We’ve also moved away from Kevin Bacon-centric advertising to emphasise a new brand platform that highlights the strengths of both BT and EE.”

As a result, the telecom giant’s focus is on creating a personalised, customer-centric experience that resonates with diverse audience segments, which allows EE to grow its presence and “appeal significantly” since its launch.

On rebranding challenges 

According to Thrane, the BT rebrand “wasn’t easy, given the complexities involved”.

He claims the move presented several challenges, particularly in establishing EE’s identity in broadband services where BT traditionally had a strong presence.

“We faced digital transformation hurdles and the need to balance advertising spend across different products under one brand,” Thrane noted.

“However, we adopted an audience-first approach, leveraging partnerships, influencers, and platforms like gaming to engage diverse customer segments authentically.”

One standout initiative was a gaming campaign within Fortnite, where EE collaborated with influencers to create immersive and authentic experiences for various audience segments.

As a result, the campaign reached millions of views, which Thrane claims demonstrates the telecom giant’s ability to engage audiences in innovative ways.

On influencer partnerships

EE’s social media strategy is rooted in audience relevance, Thrane reveals.

By collaborating with influencers across different segments, such as gaming, EE ensures its content resonates with its target audiences.

He says: “We recently launched a gaming campaign within Fortnite, engaging influencers to create authentic experiences for diverse audience segments. Our goal is to build brand awareness and drive engagement through tailored content and partnerships.”

On the future of EE

“Moving forward, we’ll continue to strengthen EE’s presence in broadband and TV services, leveraging innovations like Wi-Fi 7,” Thrane notes.

“We’ll also expand into new areas like gaming and consumer electronics, emphasising EE’s commitment to innovation and customer-centricity.”

However, the transition from the BT brand to EE will be handled with care, ensuring it aligns with both business and consumer needs.

“Whaven’t set a specific timeline for phasing out the BT brand. Our focus is on ensuring a seamless transition that makes sense for our business and our customers, he concludes.