It’s not every day that one is invited to the launch of a new telco. In fact, attending OneMobile’s launch was my first foray into the industry, so naturally I donned by bright new Witchery gown and colour-block wedges. Held at The Olsen Art Series Hotel, OneMobile’s new youth-centric product is squarely aimed at the youth market. Today’s Ruby Assembly blog gives you an overview of OneMobile’s new product, its marketing approach, and our take on the strategy and ensuing launch party.

Inset above is an example of the kind of bubblegum pop, high-NRG (’cause the kids don’t use the word energy, yo) irreverent marketing which is at the core of the OneMobile strategy. The Directors of OneMobile (who are large aggregators of telecommunications services to a range of providers, they also include a seniors-specific service in their portfolio) saw a gap in the market for a youth-oriented telco. Managing Director Zac noted that Virgin previously held court in the youth space, but as that brand’s core market have matured, so has Virgin’s marketing. OneMobile is aimed at 15-odd year olds, and the focus of the product is on easy, no-strings-attached mobile pre-paid plans with a range of cutesy-pie names like ‘Low-Riders’, ‘Ninja Thumbs’, ‘Da Bomb’ and the contentiously named ‘Cherry Popper’. Zac and Chris’ logic is that if they are old enough to have a part-time job, they are old enough to take on the responsibility of paying and learning to manage their own mobile phone usage. Here here. I agree.

The OneMobile campaign’s slogan is “Let’s Get It On”, which is supposed to reference the ‘I like you – You like me – Let’s Get It On” ease of using OneMobile services. OneMobile acknowledge that the youth market are not brand-loyal, and are choosing to capitalise on the convenient, easy and inexpensive aspect of their service. The Age’s Lucy Battersby wrote a report on the OneMobile marketing approach, noting Collective Shout’s comment that the campaign was ‘sleazy’. OneMobile would suggest that their unique marketing strategy merely uses the language of social media and youth to communicate with their core market. They are intelligently linking their brand to youth-friendly identities such as Summadayze and Snoop Dogg (yes, apparently he IS allowed back in the country). The core benefit of the OneMobile service is that it provides an app to re-charge credit. This technology is new, and will likely remove the need for pre-paid customers having the schlep to the 7-Eleven at midnight for credit. It’s particularly useful for those teens who live in the country and can’t easily get to convenience stores. There is also a nifty android-friendly QR scanning facility, where you can take a photo of OneMobile marketing and be directed to a credit-purchase app on your phone. Cute, huh? The kids will go for it just like Double Dips and WizzFizz at the milkbar. Or wherever those stylish kids get their sugar these days.

So, it’s time to commit to how I feel about the marketing. Well, I think it’s canny. On-pulse. Mimicking adolescents’ desires for independence effortlessly. OneMobile are likely to be hugely successful and they have an energetic marketing suite to match. The product itself is simple to use, marketed like candy in a vending-machine website layout which doubtless fills a gap in the market. I like the app for re-crediting instead of going out at night. However – my acknowledgement that the marketing works and that the technology is savvy  is quite separate to my sentiment about the marketing collateral. It makes me very uncomfortable. If I had a 15-year-old, I’d be sad if ‘cherry popping’ were part of her every day vocabulary. I wouldn’t want her to think that the “Let’s Get It On!” as a concept is as clean, shiny and simple as OneMobile’s advertising suggests. “Cherry Popper”, the titillating “Cherry Popper Crew” cruising shopping malls near you soon and the adage of  “Let’s Get It On” compound the idea that buying mobile pre-paid products are as much fun -as neat and simple – as a brief pleasurable fling. I think I’ve seen a similar trick pulled before. I’m sure that 1960’s feminists can identify this insidious ploy from a mile-off, having been the original recipients of the ‘have sex and reclaim your power, because enjoying sex is a symbol of your independence’ concept. Snoop Dogg isn’t the kind of guy I’d want my 15 year old ‘Cherry Poppin’ with, y’know? He’s like an unofficial pinup boy for wannabe gangstas who like bucket bongs and long Playstation sessions accompanied by greasy kebabs and porn. I’d want my daughter to value and celebrate her sexuality, and kick any 15-to-whatever year old bloke to the kerb who started talking about ‘cherry popping’ and infantilising or cheapening her. I’d prefer her to have sex with someone age-appropriate who appreciates her without having to fetishize her adolescence.

Yo! It’s Snoop Dogg and his pimp chalice!

I’m not silly enough to think that censorship is feasible – nor would I want it to be. I’m just a bit disappointed, that’s all. But hey – I’m also disappointed by The Celebrity Apprentice – that doesn’t mean it will cease to exist or draw ratings. OneMobile’s strategy is efficient, and is being used by other brands marketing to adolescents. They are not an ‘evil hegemonic’ brand, they are not doing anything that is out of the ordinary with their marketing. I just hope that we’re having enough earnest discussions with our adolescents (bearing in mind, i’m only 29) so that they can nimbly de-code these marketing messages and take them with a grain of salt. 

OneMobile also have a product for senior citizens which is extremely cost-effective and comprehensive. They are a savvy business doing their thing, and expanding their markets with gusto. I am grateful to have gone along to their launch, to have spent some time with both Zac and Chris and ultimately – to crystallize some ideas about sexualized marketing I’ve been mulling over for some time. OneMobile threw a glorious launch party, with Cherry Popper cocktails, great catering and a band to boogie to. Here are some photos of the night.

The Cherry Popper Crew and Ninja (of the less controversial Ninja Thumbs product)

Tara, Kyra of Pybus PR and the ever-elegant Nish

The Rat Pack Revisited! With Jessi Lewis of One Small Room, Marianne (Esme & The Laneway) and dapper John.

Cheryl Lin of BusiChic fame channelling Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Myself with Alicia from Sea of Ghosts and Lady Melbourne.