How Carat helped Vodafone unpack Reboxing Day

Roman Kemp promoting Vodafone's 'ReBoxing Day' campaign Roman Kemp promoting Vodafone's 'ReBoxing Day' campaign
Roman Kemp promoting Vodafone's 'ReBoxing Day' campaign

Describe the brief in a nutshell:

More than 1.5 million households (6% of the population) in the UK have no access to the internet. Yet, alarmingly, one in five Brits were unaware of the issue. Digital access and skills are essential to enable people to participate fully in an increasingly digital society; and digital exclusion is inextricably linked to wider inequalities in society.

For Christmas 2021, Vodafone chose to focus support on its everyone.connected initiative. Central to our solution (everyone.connected) is gifting SIM cards with free data calls and texts, and working with UK charities to deliver connectivity to those who need it most. But for this campaign, we wanted to focus on motivating the public to join us in our mission by donating devices.

Our brief was not only to encourage the nation to get behind the initiative and donate their devices, but to get people to understand that digital poverty is a real issue in the UK.

Who was behind the campaign?

Mehul Ashra, head of strategy, Carat UK; Natalie de Cruz, client partner, Carat UK; Jamie Truscott-Howell, planning director, Carat UK; Rob Honeywood, managing partner, Dentsu Creative; Julie Vitalis, client creation partner, Dentsu Creative.

Who were the media partners involved?


What was the critical insight and how did it help you come up with a solution?

Three insights guided the idea:

The statistic that 30% of people were expecting a new laptop or tablet for Christmas. While many of these devices were bought before Christmas Day, old devices did not become "available" until Boxing Day. Our research showed that search volumes for setting up new devices increased tenfold on Boxing Day.

As soon as Christmas Day was over, the emotive nature of Christmas advertising suddenly switched to being sales and promotion-led on Boxing Day.

Boxing Day had, historically, been a day about charitable giving. But somewhere along the line, this meaning had been forgotten.

Talk us through the campaign planning process.

Our challenge was devising a campaign that drove brand love for Vodafone while also creating a proactive call to action. We used Carat’s Designing For People process to take our audience insights and translate them into specific jobs to be done for each objective of the campaign – from awareness of Vodafone’s link to the initiative, through to how we demonstrate the real human impact of digital exclusion and subsequently drive donation. Phasing these jobs through the campaign life cycle allowed us to craft specific channel strategies and messaging for each, culminating in an ecosystem with no loose ends that fully used not only paid media, but Vodafone’s wealth of retail and virtual real estate.

What were the pivotal activation elements that brought the campaign to life?

It was critical for us to create a real media moment with scale in order to result in physical action from our audience. 

Instead of finishing Christmas with Christmas Day, we wanted to buck the trend of switching from emotional to sales and discount-focused ads, as well as turn traditional campaign phasing on its head. Our campaign instead built in momentum across the festive period culminating in a cultural moment… the day after. 

Our big idea was to rebrand Boxing Day as "ReBoxing Day".

ReBoxing Day was a movement to return Boxing Day to its original purpose, as a day of charitable giving to those less fortunate, more specifically children who are digitally disconnected. This idea was about making a cultural and media moment by inspiring generosity after weeks of indulgence.

On the day itself, we asked households across the UK to donate their old devices, especially if they had just received a new one on Christmas Day.

Working in partnership with ITV, we rebranded Boxing Day as ReBoxing Day, a call to action to re-box old devices and give them to the everyone.connected cause. 

Fronted by TV celebrity Roman Kemp, we created content where Roman spoke directly to camera and explained why digital poverty is a cause we all need to fight. While Roman’s tone was light-hearted and entertaining, he explained how no child should be left behind.

These films ran across TV, video on demand and social media for the two weeks up to ReBoxing day.

On the day itself, Vodafone took over ITV and its digital channels for the whole day.

The content dominated ITV media, running across its main channel ITV1, taking over the ITV Hub inventory to ensure presence in every ITV Hub viewer session, digital banners and a home page takeover across, and social media content.

Please indicate the cost of the media campaign using the following range scale?


What were the biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

This campaign was always going to be tricky on account of us asking the public to donate devices that can be worth up to several hundred pounds, especially when most of the UK did not deem digital disconnection a social issue. Timing and frequency of message were crucial to capitalise on as much of the public’s Christmas spirit of generosity as possible.

Talent was additionally key, and our close partnership with ITV and its support was critical to getting this right.

What results did you achieve and what makes them special?

There was a huge increase in donation kits requested, with 39% of the year’s kits requested over the Christmas period alone. The activity drove a significant uplift in website traffic – 80% of all everyone.connected traffic was driven across the Christmas campaign period with more than 156,000 visits, spiking during the week of the ReBoxing activation. 

Our campaign drove 181 pieces of press coverage in mainstream media and 80 tweets from influential charities, politicians and NHS trusts.

To date Vodafone has provided free connectivity to more than 250,000 people.

Vodafone also saw a significant increase in its key metric of non-user consideration over the Christmas period, twice its previous record since the year began.

Watch: Mehul Ashra 'Why I'm proud of this campaign'

What's the biggest lesson you took away from the campaign?

We learned via our social channels that there is still work to be done to educate the public on the long-term effects of the digital divide, particularly so in the wake of the global pandemic and with a cost of living crisis making life harder for all. 

Our charity partners consistently report the value that we are providing to the people we serve, and we are now exploring "what next?", and are committed to championing this issue until it no longer exists.

Is there anything you would have done differently?

There is always a lot of potential synergy to be had through Vodafone’s entire network of paid and owned channels. Working through our partnership brief earlier in the process would have allowed us to drive further integration of our wider Christmas message through Vodafone’s powerful owned channels and real estate, something we are already addressing in this year’s campaigns.

How did this media innovation advance the industry?

There was bravery in the ReBoxing Day idea – to do something that completely bucked the trend of Christmas advertising.  When most advertisers put a lot of effort and creative energy into producing the most iconic advert, we shifted our efforts to doing something purposeful at a moment that made sense in a way that completely went against the "norms" of what brands do at Christmas.

This article appeared in Campaign on 15 September 2022

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