Phones 4U looks to reach older audience with 'scary' ads

Phones 4U is switching its marketing focus from being brand-led to instead highlight its deals as it looks to reach an older audience through price-led promotions.

Phones 4U Scary Girl

The retailer is rolling out a £5.2m integrated horror-themed marketing campaign, its biggest ever pre-Christmas media spend, with the tagline “Missing Our Deals Will Haunt You”.

Caspar Nelson, Phones 4U head of brand and communications, says previous Phones 4U marketing has “over indexed” on the younger end of its target audience - 18 to 24-year-olds - but the new campaign is widening that demographic to include people up to 34.

He adds: “We feel the ‘value’ message has a wider audience in these times and the creative we’ve used will appeal to people from the Xbox gamer to an older person who remembers the classic horror films.”

The campaign’s TV spots include horror themed 30-second films, which will be preceded by a series of five “subliminal messaging-style” 2-second blip TV ads, featuring a scary girl character, designed as teasers to evoke conversation around the new creative.

The spots have a Clearcast rating of post-7.30pm, ensuring it does not break any CAP advertising codes about harming children.

Nelson says the ads are intended to “build tension” rather than scare people, despite the fact that they are horror themed.

“We are punctuating the horror genre with Phones 4U humour [including the classic hand gestures], but it’s intended to build tension rather than scare. The Phones 4U brand is irreverent and off the wall, so we wanted to keep that messaging,” he adds.

Peugeot had an ad banned earlier this year by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), after a child was scared by the spot during a Peppa Pig programme on the Nick Jr channel.

Phones 4U was also censured earlier this month by the ASA for featuring an image of a grinning Jesus Christ giving a thumbs-up sign in an ad that was deemed disrespectful to the Christian faith.

Readers' comments (45)

  • It really scared me, settled down to watch celebrity juice and in the the ads arrrrrgh!

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  • i think this advert is silly if a child was watching tv and this advert came on it would scare them, i thought it was an advert for a horror film that was due to start soon its very disturbing

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  • Although this is only aired during certain programmes and after a certain time i think this ad its awful, its not intended to scare well believe me it did just that, i will not be using phones 4 u after this ad so its done the exact opposite to what its advertising...Im all for controversal but people choose to watch horror, this isnt giving people their free choice only forcing it on them as it is not expected...
    i was on edge for quite sometime until i realised what it was trying to advertise, the message is not even clear as to what it is advertising or trying to say.... phones 4 u u disappoint yet again.

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  • I have just been watching a program on itv 2 +1 and this advert popped up. I kno you have put it on later so that you dont scare children but there are plenty of adults also senior citizens who will not appreciate this type of advert. I am petrified of anything to do with horror that i avoid it at all costs. This advert has made me not want to watch tv at all unless i have recorded it so that i can avoid it as much as possible. Also being pregnant i dont like the fright. Thank you for reading this and i hope you take into considerarion that not every one has the same sense of humour as the person behind the idea of this advert.

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  • I saw the advert and I honestly think it is horrible. It scared me and the people I was with, and the tagline being 'Missing our deals will haunt you', i know that it's coming up to Halloween but I don't agree with an advert like that!! It should be banned!!!!

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  • I found this add utterly distasteful, regardless of which age genre it was directed at. It did not send any kind of message across, I did not even know it was for Phones 4U until now. All it succeeded in doing was make a bunch of people uncomfortable on what should have been a pleasant Thursday night.
    I think the ad should be banned and Phones 4U heavily fined for putting such an ad on the air, particularly after having been already censured earlier for a previous ad.

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  • It's a great ad - funny and makes you really sit up and think - what the hell is this?! Get over it you TOTAL wimps!

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  • Certainly won't ever be buying phones from these people, caused chaos in our house and as they are planning more of these ads we wont be watching the TV channels showing them either.

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  • Certainly won't ever be buying phones from these people, caused chaos in our house and as they are planning more of these ads we wont be watching the TV channels showing them either.

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  • Total wimps? Tell that to my 7 & 8 year olds who were up half the night after watching this appalling advert at 7.30pm! Unbelievably inconsiderate and inappropriate scheduling by ASA and Phones4U.

    Definitely not phones for me....

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