That O2 Un-experience


O2 says Fuck YouSo what would you do if you were trying to provide a ‘special offer’ to some of your most ardent, most evangelical customer? You know the kind who aren’t shy about coming forward and telling their friends what a bang up job you’re doing with that great piece of Apple kit that (currently) no one else can provide. The kind of early adopter people who appreciate technology and great design.

Personally speaking, I’d make some sort of effort, but then I’m not O2, the spanish telephone company that has the lock on the iPhone in the UK. They thought of a very special way of making their customers’ iPhone upgrade memorable. First you send them a text message at 8 in the morning telling them you’re offering them a special deal. It’s so special it’s a web only deal.. You tell them that it’s extremely limited and demand is expected to be high. You tell them it’s first come, first served. You direct them to a part of your website that is 3 clicks away from where they get to sign up. And then.

Your server crashes at 8:02.

How bad is that? Well. It’s pretty bad. Admittedly it’s not bad in a ‘Hover, we practically blew the company on that free flights offer’ way, but it is bad. Bad in so many other ways. Bad in a ‘we had a chance to marry our brand (which no one gives a toss about) with Apple’s (one of the world’s best brands) and we decided we’d rather stab our customers in their eyes than take the opportunity’ kind of way. Bad in a ‘aren’t we supposed to be, like, a telecoms company?’ kind of way. Bad in a ‘shouldn’t we have some idea of extendable server systems’ kind of way. Bad in a ‘do you think anyone will trust us to set up ANY kind of internet sort of thing EVER again’ kind of way. And very, very bad in a ‘do you think they’ll notice’ kind of way. Hmm, let’s ponder that last one. Nope, I think they’ll definitely notice. But just in case they don’t, let’s redirect them to look at our iPhone tarrifs, I mean they’re all only going to be EXISTING IPHONE CUSTOMERS. They’re only currently paying for the service, so they’ll probably have AN IDEA of your bloody tarrifs.

So O2, the telecoms company that thinks it’s better to sponsor the millennium dome than actually provide a, get this, mobile telephone service, this is how badly you’ve blown it. You’ve managed to convince ALL the early iPhone adopters in the UK that you’re systemically unable to live up to the Apple brand. You’ve managed to convince us that you know NOTHING about technology, NOTHING about the internet and NOTHING about your customers – except that apparently it’s OK to treat them like scum. You’ve managed to convert an opportunity into a catastrophe in a way that can only be described as self-inflicted. You’ve demonstrated an incompetence of planning that is somehow also deeply, deeply strategic. This is long term brand-nuking stuff. This is a well known major supermarket selling poisoned food manufactured in sweat shops by slaves to children and exposed in a popular Sunday tabloid. This is incompetence, ignorance and technical illiteracy as core brand values. This is ‘Ratners sells crap’, but sent by text message, individually to each of your customers. This is getting really, really, really close and personal with them and then, giving them a full-on blowback of your festering halitosis.

Compare and contrast with the Nike +, a partnership with Apple that worked for both partners, where Nike win a Palme d’Or at Cannes, while Apple reinforce the iPod as the natural choice for runners. Here Apple must be really pleased to work with people who can’t even keep a server running. I mean Apple only sells billions of tunes via iTunes and here’s its specialist mobile partner and they can’t even keep a website up. For the morning. This makes Apple look like twats for selecting this bunch of amateurs for their partners. Worse, it makes Apple look like stupid twats. It makes Jobs look like an asshole. And you’ve got to think, How long is he going to tolerate that?

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