Vodafone: Inspiring Mobility




Client: Vodafone
Category: Telecommunications
Agency: MEC/Team Red
Country: United Kingdom
Year: 2015


Campaign Summary

Ben McBean is a former Royal Marine commander who lost an arm and a leg in a horrific accident while serving in Afghanistan in 2008. Never one to give up, Ben not only recovered from his injuries, but also, with the help of prosthetics, he ran a marathon less than twelve months later.

Ben wanted to give back to those who had helped him overcome his adversity. Ben issued himself a massive challenge. He would run 31 grueling miles around London to map out the shape of a giant poppy, the symbol to commemorate fallen soldiers, right before Armistice Day 2014. In doing so he would spark greater interest for the Poppy appeal, the major donation driver to organizations that had helped him through his difficult times.

Vodafone created the Inspiring Mobility mobile campaign not to push network speed or promote the latest handset but to enable Ben to achieve his ambitious goals. Vodafone provided him with the mobile technology resources and communications platform he needed to get over the finish line, share his story and raise money to support the needs of fellow soldiers.


Objective and Context

The Inspiring Mobility campaign had mobile at its heart. The mobile-first media goals focused on increasing running participation by leveraging the wealth of location-based data signals available to pinpoint Londoners runners and enable runners to track their progress. Vodafone acted as the enabler through technology, media and PR support to help Ben fulfill his ambition.

Vodafone wanted to drive donations from the public to support the Royal British Legion, with Vodafone matching all public donations. With a modest budget, an inspirational campaign that would drive earned media was needed to maximize awareness and reach the donation target of £10,000.

For maximum engagement, Vodafone decided to target London runners and fitness enthusiasts, then layered a key attitudinal segment to these runners defined as Restless Life Lovers. This audience is super connected and social. They show energy and enthusiasm for life. Most importantly, they show bravery and generosity. This audience would be inspired by Ben’s story and would go the extra mile to share his achievements and actively participate in his journey in any way possible.

Ben delivered on his part of the bargain, running 31 miles in two days. Could Vodafone do him proud and deliver the exposure, runners and donations required to make all his effort all worthwhile?


Creative Strategy

Inspiring Mobility used fitness trackers to create a meaningful symbol of remembrance for all those who have fallen on the battlefield or have been wounded serving their country.

Vodafone enabled the public to participate in Ben’s challenge, leveraging mobile advertising to pinpoint people in the environments most relevant to the message. After Ben finished the outline of the poppy, Vodafone called for the public to fill in the poppy by running the streets contained inside his route. Several mobile networks layered in relevant targeting parameters to increase accuracy. Participation was simple. Runners signed up to participate through integrations with popular running apps Strava, Run Keeper and MapMyRun. Runners could track their progress on the Poppy Map.

Mobile display ads then hit the MapMyRun and RunKeeper apps, targeting users before and after runs, thus guaranteeing Vodafone was targeting runners and ensuring the greatest participation rate possible. Vodafone enabled runners to easily share their run routes directly from their tracking apps, enabling the poppy to be filled in real time. Even the campaign’s radio execution, featuring in-app messaging and digital radio spots, targeted times when people were most likely to be running.

Next, Vodafone used mobile ad networks to target people with running apps installed on their handsets. This strategy increased reach by enabling Vodafone to target runners in environments outside of their running apps. It also gave those out of the running habit the ammunition needed to hit the streets. For additional reach, Vodafone targeted general health and fitness content, as well as people who were at or had visited running locations, such as athletics clubs and running tracks.

Paid social created phenomenal support. Vodafone targeted only those identifying themselves as runners in the London area. Daily updates of the map were promoted to maintain excitement, further amplifying the campaign through earned media impressions.

Completing the map was challenging. To encourage participants to inspire their social networks into action, the map was constantly updated showing areas that needed to be run. Vodafone exerted time pressure to maintain intensity throughout the week-long activation. Runners campaigned within their social networks to encourage others to participate. Through mobile-first thinking, donations were gathered using a text code.

Of the media budget, 60 percent was allocated to mobile media, including sponsorship of Capital Radio’s London mobile app and digital radio ads, which targeted times people were running and explained how to get involved.

All messaging linked through to a fully responsive website. Here, Vodafone helped participants open a data feed from their favorite running app and participate with a single click. Then runners hit the street using their running apps, and GPS data flowed directly to the Poppy Map.

Vodafone galvanized huge influencer support through social channels from Stephen Fry and David Williams, even organizing a celebration for Ben where Prince Harry was on hand to congratulate him at the finish line.

In the end, the poppy symbol, created by Ben and by over 600 runners, was possible due to Ben’s determination, the public’s participation and mobile technology that enabled their movements to be tracked and visualized on a map.


Below are the results of the campaign:

  • Vodafone smashed donations targets by over 300 percent, with over £32,000 donated to the Royal British Legion. Funds were matched through the Vodafone Foundation. In one week, 635 runners participated and shared their data, running a massive 7,492 miles.
  • Social delivered higher levels of engagement than any previous brand engagement campaign – nearly one million earned media impressions and 82 percent positive sentiment towards the campaign, which are impressive numbers within the mobile operator category.
  • PR coverage went into overdrive with interviews on Sky Sunrise, ITV News, Daily Mail and Independent Online. A total of 44 pieces of coverage spanned national print and online, television and radio. Media coverage alone reached 750,896,670 people globally, including North American coverage on Today.com and Yahoo Canada.
  • While delivering on the key objective of supporting Ben and raising donations, the campaign added strong positive sentiment to the Vodafone brand.



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