Boost Mobile is unleashing another wave of ads as part of its Spanish-language campaign, dubbed “Sin Abusos” ("No Abuses"). The effort began last year and highlights the injustices Hispanics face in this country, including signing up for pricey—yet spotty—cell phone coverage. While previous spots focused on Hispanic consumers’ “desensitized” approach toward these injustices, the new ads focus on change and empowerment, said Tommy Thompson, president of iNSPIRE!, Boost Mobile’s lead agency for Hispanic advertising. The campaign, which also includes radio, print and out-of-home ads, is part of Boost Mobile's strategy to target a growing market: Hispanic telecom users, per Thompson. The postpaid market is growing rather sluggishly, but Hispanics are actually consuming more minutes and data plans, he said. In an interview with Brandweek, Thompson discussed why the “no abuses” message is as relevant as ever, and how campaigns like Boost Mobile’s have pushed prepaid plans to the mainstream.
Brandweek: Boost Mobile has been running its “Sin Abusos” campaign for some time now. What’s different or new about these spots?
Tommy Thompson: The “Sin Abusos” or “Without Abuse” campaign is one we launched last year, so a lot of the strategic underpinning is still the same. However, the approach of how we express that is what we’re [changing] this year. The strategy was very sound, but we wanted to make sure we were conveying the story and engaging with consumers in a new way. In the past, our focus was centered more on the idea of, “You are abused so often that you tend to get desensitized to the abuse and then nothing else bothers you.” The tonality was all about being desensitized to the abuse and that came from the Hispanic consumers’ insight that they feel they are constantly getting abused in the country and there is nothing much they can do about it. If they get their checks cashed at a check cashing center, they pay through the roof. Prepaid calling card companies screw them over.
After a year of letting consumers know they’re constantly getting abused, we’re evolving the communication to let them know that we finally have a company that is helping them stand for [their rights] and giving them the power to make a change. So, we’ve evolved from being desensitized to the abuse to the fact that when you worry about something, you always carry that weight with you . . . so we anchor the creative on the expression of, “Why do you have that face?” which is a very common saying in Spanish.
BW: Give us an example.
TT: One spot shows a person who has gotten a “long face” not because he’s sad, but simply because he’s gotten so used to worrying about his cell phone bill that his face has grown permanently long. We also have other executions coming, like one person who has a “mad face.” But in this particular execution, we see the “empowerment person” in this case, a waitress, who says to him, “You know what? That used to happen to me, too. I used to have a long face, but I did something about it and even my face has changed.” The point is, if you are stuck in this contract that has a bad network and bad coverage, you can change to something better. That’s where Boost Mobile comes in.
BW: Who’s your target consumer for the spots?
TT: Our core target is consumers in the 25 to 44 age range, Spanish speaking, and they’ve been in the country for a few years. From a psychographic [perspective], these are people who are maybe not all that comfortable with mainstream America . . . even though they’ve been in the country for a long time now, they still have not found their way, if you will, and while there are things they like about the U.S., they are still very much tied to their origins.
BW: Do you think the message of “abuse” and “change” is still relevant?
TT: While our competitors have matched us on price, and even, in some cases, advertising a price that is lower than ours, their service and coverage isn’t as good as what Boost offers. So there’s still relevance because you know what? Abuse isn’t just about price. Abuse is maybe paying a cheaper price, but then you have to pay it for real because you’re not able to make more phone calls. We feel that from a consumer perspective, the anchoring of the message about use is important. We’re giving them the empowerment that they need, the message that they, too, have the power to make changes in their lives. We’ve seen—from focus groups we’ve done—that that message is still very much relevant to them because of the mindset consumers are in.
BW: How has the prepaid market grown since Boost Mobile and its competitors have started promoting such plans?
TT: Prepaid has become acceptable. What I mean by that is that in the past, you had postpaid carriers and then prepaid was really for people who didn’t have credit, for immigrants without paperwork. It was very much of a niche market. But if you look at what happened with the economy and when the recession and unemployment [hit], a lot of consumers became thriftier in their purchasing decisions. All of a sudden, they said, “Now I can get prepaid and I can get it from a respectable company.”
So prepaid has become a part of the [mainstream culture], and all of the big players are starting to offer prepaid and market it more aggressively. In the past, telecom companies looked at it as a retention tool: “A customer comes to us and we can’t get them approved, so let’s give them prepaid.” Now, they’re looking at it as an acquisition tool. They know a shift has occurred in consumers’ mindsets and they don’t want to get stuck in a contract for two years and so, they’re allowing for flexibility in the industry.
BW: How big of an opportunity do Hispanics represent in this market? Is it growing?
TT: You’re starting to see a lot of companies who are starting to realize that the Hispanic adoption of technology is very high. If you look at their [minutes usage], from a talk perspective, Hispanics overindex on that. They talk a lot more than the general market does. If you look at data consumption, Hispanics overindex on that, too. They download ringtones, games, etc. As the general market has [grown sluggishly], telecom companies are now going to Hispanics and saying, “Hey, I need to influence a new type of consumer. If things aren’t getting better on the general market side, let’s go to where [the money] is.” We are getting increased competition from the top three players: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint [Boost Mobile’s parent company] and T-Mobile are all going up against that segment and now we’re starting to see MetroPCS and Cricket increase their [marketing] efforts against Hispanics.