EE: Kevin Bacon fails to champion EE and 4G

Marketing's unique weekly analysis of advertisement recall in association with TNS.

There's a lot to like here. 'Hollywood A-lister' Kevin Bacon is placed at the centre of EE's connected 'universe', talking to us about the benefits of a 4G network, as he walks through a friendly little town in Britain.

The star has been perfectly cast. His knowing performance, disarming and entertaining in equal measure, is the highlight. The obvious play on 'six degrees of Kevin Bacon' is funny if you know the game, and even if you don't, you warm to him immediately for not taking himself too seriously.

The nerdy/mainstream pop-cultural mash-up of references also works well, especially delivered in an American accent. 'EE is for you, whatever you're into'. It's very difficult to say that without appearing generic, but this ad just about pulls it off, and again, it's Bacon's performance that gets it over that hurdle.

The treatment nicely combines a cinematic feel with the accessible 'localness' of the setting, and the fast-paced script draws you in to the subject. It is suitable for repeat viewing, and this is useful in terms of regularly reminding the audience about the brand's offering, without annoying them.

The structure - star talking about the product to camera - is perhaps a little familiar. It's not too far away from competitor Virgin Media's ads featuring Marc Warren and David Tennant (by DDB and BBH, respectively). The similarity isn't that problematic, however, as this isn't just another network. This is 4G, the future, with lightning-fast speeds and a world of possibility.

For me, that's where the problems begin. I'm in that pocket of people you'd call early adopters. I'm excited about the potential of 4G, so why is it that I feel less excited about 4G after I've watched the EE ad?

Watching movies on my mobile. Online gaming. The prospect of NFC payments. All of these are good, but nothing new, and not dependent on this superfast network. Sure, it'll be much better on 4G, but the ad seems to be telling me that it'll be only slightly better. Changing network is a big leap for most consumers, and seems an awful lot of effort for 'slightly better'.

It might be that EE has played it somewhat safe because it's a TV ad, and the brand's first one, intended to appeal to a mass market. I don't want to nitpick, but I'm a little disappointed it didn't speak more overtly to those who want the best technology available as quickly as possible.

EE has made a good ad in terms of announcing the brand (friendly, approachable, sharp but not techy), but the benefits of its class-leading product don't come across that well. Kevin is telling me only how great the connected, online world is - not why EE's offer is the one I should desire.

Brand strategy verdict

A solid, memorable launch film that's probably a better ad for the internet in general than it is for the EE brand.

6 out of 10

Adwatch (Jan 9) Total Recall: EE
Latest rank Jan-09 Brand Agency/TV buyer Recall
1 -2 EE  Saatchi & Saatchi/MEC 58
2 -1 Argos  CHI&Partners/Mindshare 56
3 -3 Littlewoods  St Luke's/Carat 54
4 (–)

Marks &


RKCR Y&R/Walker Media 50
5= (–) Isme  Contagious Content/Carat 48
5= (–) John Lewis 

Adam & Eve DDB/Manning

Gottlieb OMD

7 (5=)  St Luke's/Carat 46
8 (–) Benylin  JWT London/Carat 43
9= (–) Aldi 

McCann Manchester/UM


9= (10=) McDonald's  Leo Burnett/OMD UK 42
11 (–) Nature Valley 

The Independence

Orchestra/UM London

12 (–)



Dare/Carat 33
13 (–)



CHI&Partners/mSix 32
14= (–)



Palladium Films/UM London 31
14= (–) Microsoft 

Crispin Porter & Bogusky/

UM London

16= (–) WH Smith  DLKW Lowe/Carat 30
16= (18=)



M&C Saatchi/Walker


18= (–) Boots  Mother/OMD UK 29
18= (–) Sky  WCRS/MediaCom 29
20 (5=) Tesco 

Wieden & Kennedy/



Adwatch research was conducted from 29 November-3 December 2012 by TNS
as part of its twice-weekly OnLineBus omnibus among 1000 adults aged
16-64. For details of the survey, contact (020
7160 5550). Advertisements were compiled by Ebiquity (020 7650 9700) and
Mediaedge:cia UK (020 7803 2000).

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