What can mobile marketers learn from nine years of Orange Wednesdays success?

Friday May 24,2013

Adhish Kulkarni, Chief Marketing Officer, Lumata

Adhish Kulkarni CMO

To read this article in full, please see the exclusive published by Mobile Marketing here.

Orange Wednesdays is one of the most successful sponsorship and reward programmes ever seen. With tens of millions of cinema tickets redeemed, it’s still going from strength to strength.

Now in its 10th year, it’s worth reflecting on what can be learnt from the programmes success…

1.       Giving back works… but you need to make it count

When Orange originally approached us, it was to use the mobile channel to give something back to its customers, by leveraging its unique partnership with the UK Film Industry.

To truly differentiate the brand, we needed to go beyond more typical sponsorship activity and give the customer something meaningful. This is why the idea of putting a free movie ticket in the pocket of every customer, every week was so attractive.

2.       Make it easy, fast and reliable

The next key consideration was to make it as easy as possible to request and redeem the offer.

A major reason for the longevity of the programme has been how well the mobile channel has worked for people to request their two-for-one tickets. A lot of film viewing decisions are made last minute. We see most customer requests in the 48 hours before Wednesday, with the most intense activity on the day itself. The mobile phone has become a crucial component of the experience.

The lesson here is to allow for impulse. We had to design a robust system of integrations and wireless devices to enable hundreds of thousands of people to make last-minute requests, even in the foyer and in the queue.

3.       Choose your partners wisely

Many loyalty programmes have an important partner component. However, be selective to avoid brand dilution.

Going to the movies is a very particular experience – Orange has stayed true to that experience and in doing so, has strengthened the Orange Wednesdays brand.

Over the years, many brands have tried to become part of the programme, but Orange has only partnered with brands that enhance the customer experience. Pizza Express is one partner that does this, extending the film experience and perceived value with a 2-4-1 pizza deal.

4.       Don’t intrude, empower

The communications should be kept as pure as the experience. Consumers see their mobile as part of their personal space, so any push messaging should be used very, very carefully.

Most of the advertising for Orange Wednesdays is above the line, anything more direct is dependent on the customer’s explicit permission. Each direct marketing communication to an Orange Wednesdays customer is designed to be part of the film viewing experience.

5.       Big ideas are worth fighting for

When Orange embarked on this journey with the film industry, no such programme had ever been run.

There were significant technology hurdles – no wireless redemption devices existed and the cinema industry was highly fragmented with till systems of all shapes and sizes.

It has taken incredible vision, sustained investment and commitment from Orange and the British film industry to bring the programme to its current position – achieved by driving home a simple message and keeping the technology behind the scenes, to ensure a great customer experience.

I don’t know about you, but I know what I’m doing this Wednesday. See you at the movies!

Adhish Kulkarni is the CMO at Lumata.

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This article was published in full on Mobile Marketing.
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