Agency: TAXI 2
Campaign Period: March 2010 – May 2012
2013 Cassies Award Winner: Gold award for Best Integrated
TAXI 2 created El Tabador – a four-inch-tall Mexican wrestler in a blue mask and lime green Spandex tights – to represent the feisty underdog fighting for freedom from long-term wireless contracts. Whatever the medium – TV ads, billboards, a YouTube channel, an interactive online game or a mockumentary – El Tabador brings the Koodo Mobile brand to life.
Koodo’s arrival in Canada as the phone provider that delivers affordable mobility on its customers’ terms marked the most successful wireless launch in the country’s history. But by the end of 2009 – less than two years later – its competitors were trying to match many of Koodo’s value offerings.
“We wanted to sell a belief system: that people shouldn’t have to be locked into a contract to get an affordable phone. The Tab exemplified that belief.”
To help fend off competitors and protect its position, Koodo decided to focus its marketing efforts on the Tab – a unique feature that provides a flexible way for customers to buy a new phone without paying full retail price. The problem: many customers were still unfamiliar with the Tab or didn’t quite understand what it was.
The challenge for Koodo, says Lise Doucet, Koodo’s vice president of marketing communications, was to bring the Tab to life in a way that would engage the brand’s target Gen Y audience.
“We wanted to sell a belief system: that people shouldn’t have to be locked in to a contract to get an affordable phone,” she says. “The Tab exemplified that belief.”
As she says, “in introducing the Koodo Tab, we had created a new category, and when our competitors copied it, the tab became an industry feature. In a way, it was a case of imitation being the best form of flattery.”
Once Koodo and its agency TAXI 2 decided to focus their efforts on the Tab, the creative team went to work. Taking inspiration from the brand’s vibrant colours and edgy personality, TAXI 2 created El Tabador, a four-inch tall luchador (Mexican wrestler) with a bright blue mask and lime green tights.
“El Tabador represents the little guy battling for all the underdogs in the fight for phone freedom,” says Steve Mykolyn, chief brand officer at TAXI 2. “He was originally considered for one season, but he’s so likeable and versatile that he ended up becoming the brand’s spokesperson.”
TAXI 2 built a campaign around El Tabador consisting of TV, cinema and outdoor and online advertising. The ads showed him leaving his village to fight for phone freedom and taking on opponents in the wrestling ring. An online mockumentary called Man Behind the Mask, featuring Bret “Hitman” Hart, gave people insight into El Tabador’s background and motivations, and an interactive YouTube game enabled visitors to assume El Tabador’s point of view and wrestle against Bloatimus Contractimus.
“El Tabador represents the little guy battling for all the underdogs in the fight for phone freedom.”
To literally put El Tabador in the hands of its target audience, Koodo created mini El Tabador action figures and gave them away free with the purchase of a Koodo phone. The figurines were also sold online and in-store, with Koodo donating all of the proceeds, which totalled $75,000, to Food Banks Canada.
“We’ve done so many things with El Tabador that it’s extended beyond just talking about the Tab,” says Mr. Mykolyn. “He really has become the best embodiment of what the Koodo brand stands for – he’s the champion of phone freedom.”
“The development process was amazing,” recalls Jeff MacEachern, creative director at TAXI 2. “The team at Koodo loved their new spokesman and how the campaign found new ways to be seen and experienced.”
The results of the Koodo-TAXI 2 collaboration are impressive. The Koodo YouTube channel became the top subscribed-to sponsored channel in Canada, and El Tabador is the subject of thousands of tweets. He’s also amassed over 340,000 followers on Facebook.
“The team at Koodo loved their new spokesman and how the campaign found new ways to be seen and experienced.” ”
By the end of 2010, about 70 per cent of Koodo subscribers had signed up for the Tab, a number that increased to 80 per cent by May 2012. Koodo was named vendor of the year in 2010 by Future Shop and London Drugs. It remains the top post-paid mobile provider for all of its major national retail partners.
“El Tabador is irreverent and unique – much like the Tab itself,” says Ms. Doucet. “He gives us plenty of opportunities to be more creative, more fun and engaging.”
ABOUT THE AWARDS
Canadian Advertising Success Stories – the CASSIES – is Canada’s only awards show recognizing the business effectiveness of advertising as demonstrated by rigorous published cases. The ICA (Institute of Communication Agencies) is the driving force behind the event, which is hosted by Strategy Magazine and supported in Quebec by the AAPQ (Association des agences de publicité du Québec) and APCM (Association des professionnels de la communication et du marketing).
Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, the CASSIES reflect the ICA’s long-standing dedication to the advertiser-agency partnership and continuous learning. Winning cases must successfully navigate a demanding two-tier examination by senior-level judges. All told, more than 350 success stories have been published in the Case Library at cassies.ca, along with Crossover Notes that point out critical success factors.
“Creative work that drives businesses deserves to be recognized through the CASSIES,” says Gillian Graham, CEO of the ICA. “Koodo used an integrated campaign featuring an iconic Mexican wrestler to save prospective customers from excessive long-term contracts. The campaign had dramatic success across multiple measures.”
The road to CANNES
For many CASSIES award-winning ad agencies, the next challenge will be to take their best work to France to compete in the 2013 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, June 16 to 22.
Officially represented in Canada by The Globe and Mail, the annual Cannes Lions awards are widely considered a pinnacle of global excellence in creative communications.