Free to Roam


Vodafone is the largest global mobile network brand, operating in more than 20 countries.  A key element of its customer service proposition is providing good value data roaming opportunities to its customers when they travel abroad.  In many countries you can access unlimited data abroad for between €4-€6 per day. 

It’s no great insight that people want to stay connected on their mobiles when travelling abroad. In fact staying connected to friends and family, and the social platforms and content you love is even more important when you’re in another country. 

The much more interesting thing is what happens on landing, the ‘unfasten seat-belts’ moment. This is the time to accept or decline data roaming services. And it typically leads to a hugely emotional reaction to a rational decision.   

From purchase journey studies across Vodafone’s markets, MEC knew that having ‘no hidden costs’ is an important driver of decision making. In this case confusion and mistrust over potential costs of using data heavy services leads to anxiety and fear.   

Many people can’t process the details and hit the ‘panic button’ – choosing to shut off data roaming entirely and spend their holiday seeking out free wifi.  

What’s worse, customer service messages on your phone, typically an SMS from your network provider, often increases the anxiety – a jumble of megabytes, tariffs and costs per minute. 

The task: build positive impressions of using your mobile abroad with Vodafone, bring clarity to the decision, and stop customers hitting the ‘panic button’. 


The easiest way to tackle this challenge? Target the ‘unfasten seat-belts’ moment – use media as close to the context of the decision moment as possible. After all, research shows that most consumers only think about how to use their mobile abroad 48 hours prior to departure. 

While this is important (and the agency set out to use data creativity to make it as effective as possible), it wasn’t going to be enough.   

In order to tackle attitudinal change, MEC Global Solutions created a new strategy: ‘Follow The Journey’. Using insight from a proprietary study on the consumer purchase journey, Momentum, which has analysed the mobile operator purchase journey in 15 Vodafone countries, the agency set out to use communications at multiple points in the travel journey.   

It wanted to increase positive bias towards Vodafone long before you may be considering a trip (‘Passive Stage Bias’) – in other words drive consumer knowledge that Vodafone can keep you confidently connected even when travelling abroad. It set out to target ‘Trigger’ moments – those times when people are actively considering a trip. And it targeted ‘Active Stage’ moments – booking the flight and counting down.   

As a result, MEC looked at ways to associate Vodafone with a range of moments and a range of content - inspiration, planning, booking and sharing. It found ways to build positive associations between Vodafone and the joy of travel. It looked at ways to share exciting new travel adventures, alternative destinations, and it also meant innovation – including micro adventures from a Twitter influencer in the UK, stories from some most influential lifestyle bloggers in Spain (who thanks to Vodafone’s roaming tariff could share real time content in social media without fear of extra costs), as well as a multi award winning media first association with live travel experiences using 360 video in Germany… 


In Germany, instead of advertising talking about Vodafone’s offer, it showed it in action. MEC created a travel experience with travel blogger, Mia Buehler, five cities and 118,000 kms in 24 hours. ‘I’ll Show You The World’ was streamed live through the Vodafone network - a VR camera, 6 sim cards, Samsung S6, and live editing – only possible through Vodafone’s stable 4G signal. Mia, accompanied by famous musicians and bloggers, created stories about incredible people and places you can’t find in a tourist guide plus the longest ever Periscope Livestream. It generated over six million views, one million social interactions and awarded Gold at both Vodafone’s Global Awards and the prestigious Deutscher Mediapreis.  

In the UK, it targeted the ‘Active Stage’ by using geo-targeting data to pinpoint the audience at airports, train stations and ferry ports, overlaying frequent traveller data and up-weighting travel content and apps. Ran activity on airport Wi-Fi and retargeted users across European IPs within 10 hours of ad exposure.   

It targeted the ‘Passive Stage’ by creating ‘Alternative Europe’ - how to live like a local with the Guardian. Spotify playlists and Instagram galleries transported the reader to each city. It enlisted the help of the adventurer/influencer Alastair Humphreys as we documented his #microadventures across Europe.  

In Spain the agency created a guerilla ‘take off’ strategy – including presence in airports, shuttle bus services, boarding cards plus sponsorship of Iberia airline’s onboard content. Also inviting aboard several bloggers who, thanks to Vodafone’s roaming service, shared real time content across social platforms. 


Germany’s  ‘I’ll Show You The World’ generated six million views, and most importantly increased ad recall +54.5% and awareness of Vodafone’s roaming offer +22.1% amongst core audiences. 

UK click through rates were 61% higher than benchmark. #microadventures achieved 2.7M video views with view rates 20%+ over benchmark. Guardian's ‘Alternative Europe’ content achieved twice the anticipated volume, with a dwell time of 4 min 19 sec, significantly higher than the 1min 30sec benchmark. Brand research showed an increase in brand attributes, with ‘a brand I trust’, ‘fast & reliable’ and ‘at the forefront of tech’ increasing by 260% on average. 

In Spain engagement rates were more than double previous benchmarks (CTR: 0.24 vs average 0.09 CTR in Spain). Vodafone was present on one million printed boarding passes, meaning it reached 39% of total Spanish travellers abroad. 

 “Data roaming products are traditionally a dry, reactive upsell in the eyes of most telco brands. MEC’s approach to leveraging the rich, engaging content opportunities that travel offers has changed perceptions about using your mobile abroad. The fantastic results tangibly demonstrated Vodafone’s capabilities as the world’s largest 4G network, and have inspired more Vodafone markets to sign on.” - Kelly Rose, Vodafone Global Brand Manager, Digital and Content.

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United Kingdom
May - September 2015
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