Mobile marketing case study: Orange Wednesdays – the world’s longest running mobile marketing campaign comes to an end

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Wednesday 25th February 2015 marked the end of Orange Wednesdays, one of the most successful sponsorship and reward programmes ever seen. The deal, which gave customers on the Orange (and subsequently EE) mobile network two for one cinema tickets on a Wednesday was launched over a decade ago. The campaign was highly successful in terms of brand awareness and customer retention for the mobile network.

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Case study summary

• Orange Wednesdays was an industry defining promotional rewards campaign that ran for over a decade
• Wednesday 25th February 2015 marked the end of the campaign which ran for over a decade
• The promotional campaign resulted in Wednesday becoming one of the most popular days to go to the cinema (14% of all UK ticket sales) and boosted customer retention for the mobile network

The challenge

Orange Wednesdays started as a bold idea for the mobile network company to give something back to its customers.

It did this by leveraging a unique partnership with UK cinemas. In order to reward customers in an innovative way and differentiate the brand, Orange needed to go beyond typical sponsorship activity e.g. using celebrity ambassadors. The idea of giving each of its customers a free cinema ticket each week would do this.

At the time of the campaign's launch, the potential value of an Orange customer was over £5 (average UK cinema ticket price back then) a week.

The solution

In 2003 Orange launched Orange Wednesdays a reward scheme that gave its customers two for one cinema tickets on Wednesdays. This later expanded to include two for one pizzas and dough balls at Pizza Express restaurants. The promotional campaign was hugely successful in increasing brand awareness and customer retention.

In keeping with its partnership with UK cinema, Orange (now EE) is the main sponsor of the BAFTAs (British Academy of Film and Television Awards). However after over a decade of rewarding its customers the iconic promotion came to an end last Wednesday.

EE has ended the long running promotion as customer viewing habits no longer support the offer, the increase in popularity of streaming films via platforms such as Netflix means there is no longer the same demand for cinema tickets.

The results

It is arguably one of the most successful and iconic promotional campaigns ever. Wednesdays went from being the least popular day to go to the cinema (as new releases are on a Thursday or Friday) to becoming one of the most popular with 14% of weekly sales being on a Wednesday – that’s amazing positive behavioural change.

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It’s the end of a highly visible brand in the UK and after such an iconic promotion it will be interesting to see what’s next for the mobile network provider and cinemas? EE have stated that they are working on new promotional rewards for customers, and we will have to wait and see if another company decides to take over the two for one cinema tickets deal on a Wednesday?

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