“What we do next”: Celebrating Gen Z’s online activism – Case Study 2021

Shortlisted 2021

Technology & Telecoms

Brand

Deutsche Telekom

Entered by:

Mindshare Germany

"What we do next": Celebrating Gen Z's online activism

The Challenge

As telecommunication services become more competitive, it is vital for Telekom to continuously stay relevant and top-of-mind.  Among all age groups, Gen Z most represents the innovators and firstcomers in terms of connected technology; incidentally, the same audience is also the most elusive and hardest to reach. To retain Gen Z’s cutting-edge nature within our customer base, it is imperative for us to keep abreast of the younger generation and establish meaningful connections with them. Therefore, our most imminent challenge as a brand is to identify ways to better engage the younger audience before cultivating a lasting relationship with them.

Driven by our brand purpose “We won’t stop until everyone is connected,” Telekom is in constant pursuit of connectivity and inclusivity for all. Seeing how Gen Z’s mobile usage is unfairly criticized as being disengaged, screen-obsessed and narcissistic, we became determined to take a stand. The intention behind “What We Do Next” campaign is thus to deploy Telekom’s media resources to transform current social prejudice into a tech-positive narrative. By lending a voice to Gen Z and celebrating their online excellency, we will declare our commitment to the younger generation, while fulfilling our corporate purpose through the same endeavor.

Combining an idea rooted in digital optimism with a confrontational Gen Z edge, we will demonstrate through this campaign how vital the connected technology that Telekom provides is in the lives of youngsters, while encouraging a tech-positive, cross-generational conversation.  Our business objective is to win over Gen Z as loyal customers; the marketing objective, to be realized through our immediate campaigns, is to increase brand favorability and consideration within this specific segment and position Telekom as a provider of choice.

The Creative Solution

Transforming the conversation – from tech negative to tech positive

We will create a rallying cry in support of Gen Z and position Telekom as the enabler propelling a movement that challenges the prejudice towards the younger generation’s mobile consumption.  Calling upon Gen Z to demonstrate their online achievements, we intend to build a tech-positive narrative through their agenda, artistry, and activism. In an era where ideas and creativity are unbounded through social media, we will choose this as the fertile ground where the campaign can launch and thrive.

At the heart of our initiative, we will feature young Opinion Leaders and Influencers, not as media vehicles or as means of gaining “borrowed attention,” but rather as an embodiment of our tech-positive key strategic message. Their real-life testimonials will prove to the world that they are not just screen obsessed young kids; rather, they are activists, campaigners and entrepreneurs, whose passion and motivations truly manifest through their online activities. Through our commitment as a brand, we will demonstrate that in addition to our effort in recognizing Gen Z, Telekom also strives to promote the good causes that are close to their hearts.

Since the trust in paid advertising is low in this audience, our message will have to be ignited by someone who has wide reach and deep clout with this generation, someone none other than the voice of this generation—Billie Eilish. Billie will be tasked with bringing her influencer mega powers to ignite the initiative via organic means. Her involvement will not only help secure attention, but also inject a fresh sense of unity into Telekom’s brand image.  While Billie is a global phenomenon, we wanted to ensure that the campaign embodies a wide spectrum of Gen Z achievements. To attain this, we identified other inspirational young talents to participate in the campaign. All of them stood for something close to Gen Z’s heart and have accomplished impressive achievements in their respective areas of expertise.

From designing sustainable fashion and campaigning for equality, to fostering tech innovation and advocating for human rights and climate change awareness, these leaders all share a common goal: using technology to progress towards an egalitarian future. Through their testimonials, we will demonstrate to the world that they are not just screen obsessed young kids; rather, they are activists, campaigners and entrepreneurs who truly demonstrate their passions and motivations through their online activities.

The Media/Content Amplification Solution

Putting Gen Z around the world at the forefront of the campaign, we created the film “Billie Eilish x Telekom: What We Do Next” to showcase the outstanding accomplishments of our young talents, chaperoned by the ultimate voice of Gen Z: Billie Eilish. These young enthusiasts were carefully chosen to ensure diversity and relevance for Gen Z globally. The film was used as the central creative for the campaign to effectively authenticate our message and reinforce the positive outlook on Gen Z’s online engagement.

The campaign was launched across nine European markets on August 12th, 2020, UN International Youth Day. We accentuated Telekom’s alliance with Gen Z by recognizing and launching the campaign on IYD, an awareness day designated by the United Nations to call attention to youth issues worldwide. Billie kicked off the campaign with an international impact when the film was shared with her 68 million followers on Instagram and YouTube. Simultaneously, our Gen Z talents amplified the launch across their social accounts. The film was subsequently further shared organically by millions of viewers worldwide.

Next, cut-down vignettes of our film were used to target Gen Zers via paid Social across 9 European markets, supplemented by bespoke Instagram Stories and an exclusive behind-the-scenes video to create an encompassing content eco system.

The second phase of the campaign was kicked off on September 2nd – short videos spotlighting more inspirational Gen Z stories were rolled out across paid media using retargeting methods.

Finally, to show that we are not just talking the talk but also walking the walk in our aim to change the world, we launched #WHATWEDONEXT challenge on social media. Promoted by social influencers across Europe, this fun AR filter challenge encouraged Gen Z to participate in the building of a brighter future through small, everyday actions such as sharing the work of LGBTQ+ artists or going vegan for a day with a friend. This challenge motivated our young target to showcase how they can make use of their screen time for a good cause, and that collectively, Gen Z can help shape a better future.

The Result

As a branding campaign, “What We Do Next” performed exceptionally well in relation to our media objectives, contributing to impressive uplifts of the Telekom brand among Gen Z within the upper marketing funnel. A study from Kantar showed that Awareness within the target group saw an additional 17,7% increase (vs. 5,3% industry benchmark); Brand favorability grew by 6,2% (1,7% benchmark), while Brand Consideration recorded an additional 10,9% uplift, which is 10 times more than teleindustry benchmark.

The spot was received by Gen Z as significantly more “sympathetic” (76% vs. 64/44% in other target groups), “pleasant” (81% vs. 55/45%) and “strong” (75% vs. 61/43%), as reported in YouGov survey. Meanwhile, YouTube comments indicated that the younger audience responded positively to being celebrated (“I am proud to be a Gen Zer”) and concurred with the standpoint that the campaign represented (“this is such an important topic, kudos to Billie for speaking about it”). Also, comments from outside of the target group (“You, kids of today, Helped me Open my Eyes. You give me Hope”) are proof of the positive response from the wider audience.

In terms of media effects, the spot really hit the mark among Gen Zers and achieved higher like values throughout advertising media. The campaign reached 78% Target Group penetration (vs 50% benchmark). At an average of 6-10 contacts, the campaign created 3,6 times higher mention rate of Telekom in connection with Electronic Beats. Subsequently, Telekom Electronic Beats social channels saw a 14% growth within Gen Z on Instagram following and a 9% growth on its YouTube channel.