Entry Description How can a small mobile carrier increase the subscriber base if the entire audience has been already divided between four giant competitors with vastly superior media resources? YOTA decided to redefine the traditional approach to advertising: in an absurdly straightforward, deadpan campaign, the brand hasn’t said anything to the consumer except the only important thing: what they see is a YOTA ad. The effect was overwhelming: highest sales record of the last 1.5 years, highest-ever rate of spontaneous brand awareness, a wave of discussion on the internet, and an unprecedented amount of UGC. YOTA is the #5 brand on the Russian telecom market, and the youngest of the federal providers. The market is owned by the Big Four (MTS, Beeline, Megafon, and TELE2), the largest players with an aggregated market share of over 95%. In recent years, their positions shift only slightly: service penetration rate is close to 200% of Russian population, and redistribution of shares simply cannot go fast on such a saturated market. At the same time, telecom services is one the most aggressively advertised categories in the country. Brands from the Big Four consistently rate in the Top 30 of the largest Russian advertisers: their TV presence is 52 weeks (the entire year), with 11 to 24 flights annually YOTA had to find ways to increase its subscriber base, even though the audience had already been divided between the competitors. This task became even more difficult because of the several factors: Brand’s media budget was considerably smaller compared to its competitors’: YOTA’s share of spend is 4%, which is 5 times less than each of the Big Four’s SOS; By the mid-2018, competitors became increasingly adept at copying each other’s offers. Product features that used to distinguish YOTA from others (customised plan, unlimited data for specific apps, mobile app usability) were adopted by other carriers; Product-centric campaigns were not having the desired effect on the brand metrics: no significant increase in brand awareness, user acquisition has slowed. Our business goal was to increase the growth rate of subscriber base by increasing sales. Based on previous campaigns’ data, we decided to consider a 25% rate increase as successful. To achieve that we needed to increase spontaneous brand awareness by at least 6% (significant by category standards). For a challenger player like YOTA, spontaneous awareness is crucial — otherwise the brand simply won’t come to mind, with four large competitors boasting a near-100% awareness. To determine the approach, we turned to data on how people perceive advertising in general and specifically in the telecom category. Advertising clutter in Russia rises 3 to 5% every year, as does the number of people annoyed by traditional advertising: 65% are so tired of ads they make an effort to not watch them. Competitors’ communication analysis showed that not only people fail to see much difference between the product offers, they refuse to pay attention — since any decent offer will be promptly copied by other carriers. The Big Four ads are irritating, unrelenting and «in your face»; people remember only faces of celebrities, not the message. Thus, a wiser strategy for YOTA was to redefine the traditional approach to advertising, instead of trying to emphasise the product. To attract attention to the brand by using absurdly straightforward advertising that doesn’t tell people anything but the most important – they see a YOTA ad. The creative approach was to interpret the goal as literally as possible: if the ad is supposed to increase brand awareness, it shouldn’t contain anything but the brand. This choice was deliberate: it reflects the principle that YOTA uses when developing products – «nothing excessive». To increase the absurdity and stress the «nothing excessive» message, we used an extremely minimalistic execution through all media channels. The only visual element that remained was the most recognizable brand attribute* — cyan color. Short copy stated the obvious: «This is a YOTA ad». Our decision to not include any sound in video formats was instrumental to the effect on TV viewers. TV advertising clutter subjects a person to an endless stream of loud noises and music; and sudden silence is such an abrupt change that it involuntarily grabs attention. We anticipated that even people who look away during the ad break will turn back towards the screen. And it works! Social media went crazy, users started creating their own versions of YOTA ads, some of which became memes, we received tonns of UGC's and realized best ones on TV. Even other brands started to imitate us. Relevance: YOTA is a mobile carrier without intrusive services: no spam, no mailings and no special offers. While other brands are trying to sell you a better life and endless benefits, YOTA has made an ad that matched its products, an ad where nothing is excessive – no actors, music, packshots, VO’s and etc. Innovation: Both execution and brand relevance. As for brand relevance: campaign itself is a metaphor of brand products, so clear that no one ever did the same straight connection before. As for execution: – to increase the absurdity and stress the «nothing excessive» message, we used an extremely minimalistic and innovative execution through all media channels.