The advertising for mobile phone company Helio has done an impressive job creating awareness for the brand in a short time. I seem to run into the cool, blue flame logo everywhere I look (outdoor, print, tv spots).
The tagline for the campaign is "Don't call us a phone company. Don't call it a phone". (The old "This is not your father's Oldsmobile" approach.)
Its really a two part tag that addresses two distinct issues. The first part builds on the (obvious) insight that people are frustrated and dissatisfied with their mobile phone providers. Those frustrations center mainly around billing, plans and service. Real cred in this area (especially in this industry) needs to be earned and demonstrated not granted by demand. The tonality reminds me of Sprite's "Obey your thirst" spots and triggers the "don't tell me what to do" gland in my brain. I frequently called Verizon, who burgled me monthly, things other than "phone company" before switching to another provider. Only time will tell if they can live up to this brand promise.
The second part, "Don't call it a phone", seeks to highlight their feature rich mobile devices. Cool, defensible and real. Most of the product reviews I've seen score the devices good to above average. Helio has apparently done an amazing job building in MySpace integration. (They get penalized for no Bluetooth or IM integration). I am very curious to get my hands on one to see how well they deliver on the array of features offered (games, music and video). Content partnerships include MySpace, Yahoo, Fox Sports and MTV.
My favorite parts of the campaign are the print ads (take a look at the ad in the latest Rolling Stone) and the copy on the website. Both do a great job of branding Helio as a punky new upstart in the category. The tv spots fall short for me. They are basically setups to deliver the tag as a punchline.
Remember the ads the Sony PSP launched with. They did a great job of highlighting the PSP as a device with multiple features and they were way more cool.
The real challenge for Helio comes on Monday when Apple may announce the iPhone. They set the bars for product design and cool very high.