Interview: Tesco Mobile on innovative marketing strategies featuring famous faces

Mobile Marketing Magazine sits down with Tesco Mobile’s Chief Customer Officer, Rachel Swift to uncover the details of the mobile network operator’s latest creative campaign featuring Ronan Keating, staying ahead of emerging trends and testing innovative marketing strategies that combine both environmental responsibility with social impact.

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On putting customers first

For Tesco Mobile, customers are the focal point of its marketing strategy. At least, that’s what Swift thinks.

The insights gained from interactions, including focus groups, customer-closeness sessions, and feedback from retail colleagues, shape the overarching customer plan and consequently, the marketing strategy, she reveals.

According to Swift, getting “closer to customers is an essential part of marketing. We are embedded into the community in a unique way that other brands aren’t.”

As a result, the telecoms arm of the supermarket giant has been named the highest-ranking mobile brand in the UK according to the 2024 Customer Satisfaction Index.

On balancing personalisation and privacy

According to Swift, who has been with the company for over four years, Tesco Mobile prioritises personalisation while ensuring customer privacy.

“When customers choose to share their data with us, we use it to provide more of the things that matter to them,” she explains. “Personalisation has helped us to deliver tailored messaging to different audience segments, maximising impact and helping us cut through the noise.”

As a result, the brand aims to ensure and maintain transparency when it comes to customer data.

She says: “Our customers always have control over what they choose to share with us, and we are clear and transparent about how we use their data. We also take great care in managing the information that is shared with us.”

On adapting to emerging trends

Tesco Mobile is constantly reviewing its approach to ensure it remains relevant and different from other brands in the market, Swift claims.

“We work closely with our insights team, as well as our agency partners, to ensure we keep our finger on the pulse – knowing what matters today and what will matter tomorrow – adapting our approach accordingly,” she says.

“We often take a test-and-learn approach to emerging media trends; try small, learn, fail fast and then execute.”

However, the brand has yet to make 5G a specific focus but ensures customers know about the network’s reliability and speed. As a result, regular campaigns across various channels communicate Tesco Mobile’s commitment to quality and expertise.

She notes: “We’re powered by the O2 network, which means 99% 4G coverage on the UK’s most reliable network and with 5G now in parts of most major UK towns and cities, customers will likely be getting blisteringly fast connections and even greater reliability.”

“We regularly launch campaigns to communicate this to our customers, across trade, OOH and radio channels,” she states.

On creative campaigns that ‘resonate’

Most recently, Tesco Mobile appointed ex-Boyzone singer, Ronan Keating, as its first-ever Roaming Ambassador.

Celebrating the ability to roam at no extra cost, the campaign featured Keating surprising customers with pop-up performances and holiday gift cards.

Describing the campaign as “creative, distinctive, and entertaining”, Swift reveals the choice of the Boyzone singer was formed as he encompasses the brand’s “helpful and family-focussed values.”

She says: “Tapping into the January mood and identifying the key moment in time when customers are booking holidays, we secured strong engagement through several work streams; from editorial coverage and engagement on social media, both on owned channels and with our partners.

“It allowed customers to engage with our campaign across several touch-points, creating an exciting moment for ourselves and our audiences and hopefully, making them smile.”

Meanwhile, Keating joins a long line of famous faces who have collaborated with the mobile network operator.

In the last year, Tesco Mobile has collaborated with Dom Joly, Katie Piper, and of course Fearne Cotton – the distinct voice of Tesco Mobile in its advertising campaigns.

Swift states: “Collaborating with well-known figures whose values are aligned with ours has been a great way to connect with our customers on a much closer level and significantly increased the reach of our campaigns.”

On cross-channel cohesion and sustainability initiatives

The former O2 Director admits Tesco Mobile’s cross-channel marketing strategy revolves around an integrated approach, avoiding silos through agile ways of working.

According to Swift, the brand is not just about business; it’s about making a positive impact.

She explains: “From brand advertising and performance marketing, through to PR and social media, we take an integrated approach to cross-channel marketing.

“We work in cross-functional teams that are equipped and empowered to deliver end-to-end. The result is that we’re making collective decisions about how we choose to communicate with our customers across different channels.”

Collaborating with charity partners like the Trussell Trust and Internet Matters, Tesco Mobile also focuses on sustainability and social responsibility. As a result, initiatives like donating data-loaded SIM cards to food banks and the Little Helps Digital Toolkit underscore its commitment to making a difference.

Swift notes: “We’ve started to test and learn marketing and communications which combine environmental responsibility with social impact.” However, she is the first to admit that “much more needs to be done in this area”.

On looking to the future

As Swift reflects on the future, she highlights the fragmentation of the media landscape and the growing role of brands in diverse channels.

Additionally, the exploration of AI is a priority for the brand, aiming to leverage its potential for marketing effectiveness and efficiency.

She concludes: “With the media landscape fragmenting like never before and brands playing a far broader role than the traditional channels they used to. Like most marketers, I’d imagine – we’re learning more and more about AI and how it can support marketing from an effectiveness and efficiency perspective.”