Vodafone Firsts New Year’s Multi-Sensory Fireworks

The start of 2014 saw Vodafone unveil a new global own-brand marketing strategy, ‘Vodafone Firsts’,  which opened with its sponsorship of the world’s first multi-sensory fireworks display to celebrate London’s New Year’s Eve.


Vodafone Firsts, which will span all Vodafone markets, is a social media and experience led strategy which sees the telecoms giant abandon its previous (fairly traditional brand badging) sponsorship approach in favour of creating deeper interactions with its 400 million customers through world firsts.


None of the projects within the new strategy are expected to generate associated TV advertising.


London New Year’s Eve multi-sensory fireworks display was run in partnership with the Mayor of London, experimental food scientists Bompas & Parr and agency Jack Morton


More than 200,000 spectators lined the Thames to watch the display and they were each given Vodafone/Bompas & Parr multi-sensory packs.


This kit included scratch and sniff programmes, LED wristbands and a set of seven fruit-flavoured sweets that linked to the tastes and smells of the multi-sensory display.


As the display fire off, the various coloured fireworks were matched fruity flavours dispersed in the air to immerse the crowd in clouds of apple, cherry and strawberry mist.


Next, flakes of peach snow floated down and landed on audience’s tongues, after which the air filled with ‘floating oranges’ (thousands of big bubbles filled with Seville orange-flavoured smoke), followed by edible banana confetti.



The 11-minute long event certainly fitted neatly with the ‘Firsts’ ethos.


The event is also designed for a TV audience – indeed 13.7 million people watched the fireworks on television – and to engage with the show audience Vodafone launched a free, augmented reality London Fireworks smartphone app enabling those not able to get to the riverbank in person to join the experience.


The event certainly saw plenty of digital engagement with around 9.7 million tweets discussing it and event blogs read by a further 7.7 million online viewers.




According to the company, ‘Firsts’ doesn’t necessarily mean that Vodafone’s relationship with specific sports will come to a complete halt. Whilst the company has ended its high profile spearhead McLaren F1 sponsorship, rugby and cricket are likely to feature as part of the new brand engagement strategy.


The new path sees the brand refocus on highlighting remarkable, first time personal achievement – whilst connected through Vodafone technology. It is built on the brand’s insight that its technology can (and does) enable, empower and inspire people to do amazing ‘first time’ things.



In addition to the more obvious ‘first call’ and ‘first video’, the mobile outfit aims for a wide range of firsts: from supporting an iconic sportswoman who is beginning to help protect vulnerable women around the world,



a musician creating his first recording sourced from remote locations,



plus other projects such as a professional surfer aiming to achieve his life’s ambition and an orchestra being conducted through a revolutionary approach.


The initiative’s structure aims to identify, enable and activate three tiers of firsts across 30 countries: ‘personal’, ‘local’ and ‘global’.


‘Firsts represents a radical break with almost a quarter of a century of Vodafone-branded badged sponsorship,’ says Vodafone Group brand director Barbara Haase.


‘Firsts is all about achieving connectivity and interconnectedness for the first time, ‘ explains Haase. ‘I  think where we are as an industry right now is a very good time to tap into a more intimate and emotional relationship [with consumers]. Technology is at the point where it’s really intimate with consumers, in terms of what they’re doing with their mobile phones.’


Vodafone is initially working with AKQA, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, Ogilvy London and Wasserman on its global ‘firsts’ initiative.


AKQA, Rainey Kelly, Ogilvy and Wasserman respectively worked on the digital and social, strategy, PR and events segments of the new launch. Indeed, the agency teams worked together in tandem as part of Team Red – WPP’s dedicated Vodafone group.


Team Red is expanding across the globe to execute the new strategy with an initial wave of programmes launching in 21 countries.




Vodafone Firsts Website



Vodafone Firsts Facebook




Vodafone Firsts Twitter Feed



Vodafone Firsts Hashtag



Vodafone Firsts Instagram



Vodafone Firsts YouTube



Vodafone Website



London New Year’s Eve Official Website




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