Review: Gareth James on…Giffgaff

Giffgaff “the mobile network run by you” is the new challenger on the block. The SIM-only mobile network continues to gain more and more kudos with its online marketing antics. This latest campaign featuring the one and only Keith Harris and Orville is a good example of how to cut through the plethora of brands trying to get seen on YouTube and to get them clicking through for more.
Last week Giffgaff posted a video called ‘TheCONtract featuring K-Orville’ – a brilliantly crafted Eminem / Rhianna pastiche. The pop video, by Albion London, features Keith and Orville riffing about the injustice of being locked into a contract and their need (nay right) to be free.
Keith (as you may have guessed) plays the Eminem character. He’s locked in a physical and metaphorical jail-cell rapping about his unjust incarceration to a mobile phone contract.
The cinematography is dark and (comically) true to the melodramatic rap rhetoric with each shot expertly choreographed to suspend the disbelief that Harris can rap… Enter Orville. Orville’s soaring, candid, unrestrained cry – “I wanna be freeeee” – launches a chorus that truly delivers. The touching reminiscence of Orville’s dark days dreaming of flight beautifully mixed with the pure comedy of his auto-tuned voice gave me a belly laugh. Orville’s performance tipped me over the edge.
The bird-in-captivity story doesn’t stop there. The song goes on to explain what you can do to help. For every mobile phone that is unlocked with a Giffgaff SIM the network provider will ensure the freedom of a real bird. A simple cluck on Facebook to sign up for a free SIM and Giffgaff will free a battery hen that is being held in captivity. Yes, you heard me right.
Random? Yep. Funny? Definitely.
I can’t help but forgive them for what is probably the most ridiculously tenuous link I’ve seen in a marketing campaign for a long time – chickens, ventriloquism, SIM cards – but in the strange and unpredictable world of the Internet they seem to make good cell mates. The ad engages, gets a laugh and drives traffic to a simple conversion mechanic and it’s all wrapped up in the magic ingredient – likeability.

Gareth James is executive creative director of TMW

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