Content brand of the week: giffgaff, the mobile network that’s far from brain-dead

Dont be Scared

giffgaff ” – sorry, something stuck in your throat?

Er – no. giffgaff is the name of a highly disruptive (in the business sense) mobile phone network.

What’s the name all about then?

Don’t worry, it’s not a house for .gif images… believe it or not, the word giffgaff, is Scottish–English for ‘mutual accommodation and mutual giving’. [1]

Thanks – I’ll add giffgaff to my Scrabulous wordlist. But what’s this got to do with mobile phones?

giffgaff is a mobile network run by its consumers. And, in the spirit of our reciprocal, crowd-sourced, social-times technical solutions from the online community, recommendations and social shout-outs are all rewarded with hefty financial savings.

Sounds like marketing gone mad. So what are they doing to engage with existing and prospective customers, and spread their unique ethos?

Good question – giffgaff has just released its latest content-led campaign, titled ‘Don’t Be Scared’. The campaign seeks to persuade new customers to not be afraid of a phone network that works in an unusual way.

So why choose zombies as the ‘face’ of the campaign?

Although terrifying at first, the zombies in the campaign turn out to be helpful members of the community – they represent the dark unknown that is DIY telephony.

Screen Shot 2013-06-13 at 13.09.58

What’s the extent of giffgaff’s zombie invasion?

Epic. Giffgaff has dominated all of its channels with cunning, infectious and often user-generated content – here’s just a small flavour:


  • Using the check-in feature, giffgaff checked ‘Thirsty Zombie’ in at a local pub – posting a Vine video in the process
  • Zombie impression photo competition – with the top 50 best photos winning giffgaff brain-flavoured popcorn


  • Zombie cooking recipes
  • Zombie app reviews
  • Tips on how to survive a Zombie apocalypse from the campaign director


  • The three-minute viral ad
  • Zombie & Betty – a tasty mini-series – zombie and a local member of the village community, Betty, talk about the day’s hot topics


A text went out to existing customers to inform them of the new campaign – it read:

“There’s somebody at the door. They’re coming. Tonight. 10:15pm on Channel 4 and E4. Join us. All will be revealed, #dontbescared” 

Crikey – that could have turned nasty. Hope no one had a heart attack?

It was rather provocative – but then the best content brands often are. Besides a spike of ‘my nan got your text message and scared the living daylights out of her – not cool’ comments on giffgaff’s Facebook page (and a stern telling off in the FT), the campaign has generally been commended by fans and commentators.

Screen Shot 2013-06-13 at 13.41.48

So why is giffgaff our content brand of the week?

3 reasons:

1)   Zombies are a familiar horror that create a sense of shock when seen – portraying them as handy helpers in a fleecy, friendly community creates a humorous juxtaposition – one which giffgaff leveraged to create engaging, shareable content across their networks, spreading the ‘don’t be scared’ message.

2)   By tapping into their valued community with tailored dialogue across all channels, giffgaff has pushed its customers to become more energetic participants in all aspects of the giffgaff brand – participation that often develops into advocacy.

3)   The way giffgaff leverages its loyal following, and reaches out to new customers by allaying their fears of the unknown is an attractive and effective combination. A meticulous understanding of your customer and the way they want to engage with you is an essential element in planning and delivering truly engaging audience-focused content.

Author: Nick van Buuren

Account Executive at Speak Media

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