S3 E5: The Campaign That Transformed an Island
– With Richie Taaffe and Adrian Begley

Jake talks with Richie Taaffe, Business Marketing Manager at Three Ireland and Adrian Begley, Chair of the Arranmore Island Council.

Ireland’s mobile service provider, Three, launched a marketing campaign called “The Connected Island” a couple of years ago. While the campaign was terrifically successful from a KPI standpoint, its impact on people is even greater. It’s a campaign that’s made waves across an entire island and its impact continues to ripple and move people all over the world today.

The story of Three and “The Connected Island” brings together a range of themes from this season and previous seasons of FIVE: It brings to light the remarkable power of human connection and truly transformative brand experiences. It highlights the virtues and impact of 5G technology. And, of course, it’s a story about human ingenuity and marketing innovation. As you’ll hear, it’s also a story about going home.

In this episode, Jake talks with Richie Taaffe, Business Marketing Manager at Three Ireland. Richie was a long-time ad agency guy when he got involved in the ideation of “The Connected Island” campaign for client Three Ireland. The journey of the campaign was also a bit of a career journey for Richie.

Jake also talks with Adrian Begley, Chair of the Arranmore Island Council. Adrian openly shares his perspectives and experiences (and those of other islanders) related to the impact of the Three campaign on the island of Arranmore.

Although this story has many fascinating layers. Jake focuses on five:

Jake’s FIVE List:

  • The objectives of the advertiser who ran the campaign. It wasn’t the island of Arranmore. It was Three Ireland.
  • The ideation and the execution of “The Connected Island” campaign
  • The specific campaign outcomes, in terms of campaign metrics
  • The unexpected impact of the campaign beyond the KPIs
  • What was happening on Arranmore Island before the campaign and how the island and its residents have changed as a result of the campaign.

“There was also a sea of sameness in the marketplace. We needed to do something completely different and essentially demonstrate why we were the best in the market.”  – Richie Taaffe, Three Ireland

Host Jake Moskowitz and guests Richie Taaffe and Adrian Begley go deep on the impact of “The Connected Island” campaign. Along the way, Richie and Adrian muse about the crafting of the story, the film crews that visited Arranmore, the disparity of technology and opportunity between the island and mainland Ireland, the flood of Arranmore interest and support from around the world and the simple pleasure of watching online videos.

Additionally, Richie recalls the business challenge he set out to address, the importance of teamwork and collaboration and the astounding impact of the campaign on Three Ireland’s business.

Some other stuff Richie and Adrian say during the conversation:

“The message is really if we can transform an entire island, imagine what we can do for your business.” – Richie Taaffe, Three Ireland

“We have a pretty vibrant community here on the island… Definitely, our strength on Arranmore is our people. And, that’s the one thing we’ve been trying to preserve here over the years. Population decline is as an issue and there are reasons.Adrian Begley, Chair of the Arranmore Island Council

“We looked at their data from the census. And, if the emigration rates kept going the way they were, the island would be depopulated by 2042. So, it’s not that far away. And the reason people were having to emigrate was basically because of the lack of connectivity. People wanted to stay on the island but there was little or no job opportunities.”Richie Taaffe, Three Ireland

“On one side of the country you have essentially got a place that’s regarded as a tech capital of Europe. On the other side of the country is somewhere that doesn’t have proper broadband. So, we felt it was a real unfairness in that essentially it was geographic inequality. We felt actually this could be a brilliant way for us to help these people but also to demonstrate a transformative power of connection that Three can offer.”Richie Taaffe, Three Ireland

In my career, the things that are usually worth doing are the hardest. The things that have the biggest impact are usually the hardest but the reward is worth every bit of effort that you put in.  – Richie Taaffe, Three Ireland

“This campaign was essentially about giving the people of Arranmore a better life through connectivity and making them more sustainable. But it’s also about the power of people. This project would never have happened without some the dedication and the passion of so many people.”Richie Taaffe, Three Ireland

“Usually in an organization that has a large kind of consumer division and a business offering. Business will get the halo from the consumer advertising whereas. Actually this was the other way around.”Richie Taaffe, Three Ireland

“It’s Three’s best performing campaign ever. So, in terms of our brand health, which is a key metric for both consumer and business, we achieved the highest-ever score. And, new business leads grew by 18 %, sales for IoT grew by 17 % and 23% for connected products and solutions and overall Three business grew by 152% year-on-year after the first year.”Richie Taaffe, Three Ireland

Rather than b-to-b or b-to-c we wanted to talk to the person and not the company. I think that’s really critical to kind of treat business-people like real people and I think too often in b-to-b, the second you say b-to-b, it brings you to a certain mindset and a certain type of marketing. The campaign that we created shows that that kind of human-to-human approach can be really effective.Richie Taaffe, Three Ireland

“Almost every call they would tell us what an impact this is going to have and is having on their lives, and thanking us – which is really unusual in our industry to be having calls like that. So we really felt blessed to be part of something like this. It definitely didn’t feel like work.”Richie Taaffe, Three Ireland

“Looking at brand and tactical or direct response in isolation is not the way to go in my opinion. I think there’s overlap between everything we do.”Richie Taaffe, Three Ireland

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