Entrant FRIENDS Moscow, RUSSIA
Idea Creation FRIENDS Moscow, RUSSIA
Production BAKEHOUSE Moscow, RUSSIA
Name Company Position
Alina Scherbinina Utair airlines Vice President of Marketing
Maxim Shmakov Utair airlines Head of Communications Department, Marketing Department
Mikhail Grigorovich Friends Moscow Creative Director
Albert Urchukov Friends Moscow sr. copywriter
Ksenia Ferapontova Friends Moscow Account Director
Daria Mansurova Friends Moscow Account Manager
Evgenia Egorova Friends Moscow Account Manager
Dmitry Saveliev Friends Moscow Head of the Strategic Department
Maxim Korostelev Friends Moscow Head of Production Department
Ekaterina Kovaleva Friends Moscow Producer


YOTA is a challenger brand on the Russian telecom market, the smallest of the federal providers. The market is owned by «The Big Four» – largest players with an aggregated market share of over 95%. Positions on the market hardly shifted in recent years: services penetration was close to 200% of Russian population and big brands had a very consistent media presence – telco was the most aggressively advertised category in the country. YOTA had to find ways to increase its subscriber base, even though the audience had already been divided between the competitors with much bigger budgets. YOTA was twice less known than the category leaders, so the only way to succeed was by achieving a significant increase in brand awareness. We had to come up with a new breakthrough idea that would redefine brand’s narrative and communication.

Describe the creative idea

The idea was that we should interpret the goal as literally as possible: if the ad is supposed to increase brand awareness, it shouldn’t contain anything but the brand. This reflected the principle that YOTA used when developed products – «nothing excessive». To increase absurdity and stress «nothing excessive» message, we used extremely minimalistic execution. The only visual element was the most recognizable brand attribute — cyan color. Copy stated the obvious – «This is a YOTA ad» – and played around with either channel, format or context of placement.

Describe the strategy

Data research showed that advertising clutter in Russia was rising by 5% every year. 65% of people were making a deliberate effort to not watch any advertising. As for telco communication – not only people failed to see much difference between product offers, they refused to pay attention since any decent offer would be copied by other carriers. People remembered only faces of celebrities, but never the message. Our strategy was to attract attention by using absurdly straightforward advertising that doesn’t tell people anything but the most important – they see a YOTA ad. YOTA targets people aged 16 to 30, but though the audience was young, media research still showed that best way to reach them and build massive awareness was via traditional media mix. So our approach was to use traditional media channels like no one on the Russian market ever did, and therefore to increase campaign effectiveness.

Describe the execution

The campaign launched with TV-spots with static picture and no sound – such an abrupt change in advertising clutter involuntarily grabbed attention. Even people who looked away during the ad break turned back towards their screens. Simple execution allowed us to relocate resources to non-standard placement – OOH extenders, graffiti, digital ambient and social media. Abundance of different formats made impression that you can run into our ad almost anywhere. It provoked discussion on social media which became an outburst when we rolled out all formats. After only two weeks of the campaign people started creating their own YOTA ads – some of them became memes, some we even used for TV-spots. Other brands started to imitate us on social media. People absolutely fell in love with the campaign, so we launched website where you could rent out a spot in your profile for YOTA ad and earn 1?(0,016$).

List the results

Just two weeks into the campaign, the growth rate of subscriber base increased by 38% (goal 25%), sales showed record figures for last 1.5 years: +80% SIM card orders online, +17% offline sales. Spontaneous brand awareness increased by 10% (goal 6%), reaching an all-time high of over 50% of Russian population. Advertising awareness grew 2.5 fold to record 25%. Significant contribution to overall success came from discussion provoked by campaign: brand mentions increased by 77%, with positive mentions growing by 82%. Share of conversation grew by 4% to 9.7% — which means that the brand share in conversations (earned) was two times bigger than its share in media spendings (paid). Thanks to UGC, we have additional organic reach of 8 million users. Also we had over 150 articles, with potential reach of 20 million people. This results prove that unconventional approach to conventional media formats became a foundation for a completely new narrative and the most effective campaign in history of YOTA.