Phones Are Good: Three Mobile stokes a debate

15 November 2018

The mainstream media has become a somewhat hostile territory for mobile phones of late. Whether it’s research linking excessive phone usage to poor self-esteem, or opinion pieces claiming phones have single-handedly destroyed our capacity for verbal communication and social interaction, our trusted cellular devices have been re-cast as the villain.

But are they really that bad? This is the question addressed in Three’s ‘Phones Are Good’ campaign, which aims to give phones a bit of love and bring some much-needed balance to the debate on their place in society.

A new TV advert kicked things off, supported by a sweep of out of home advertising, social media interactions and of course a consumer facing PR campaign. The PR activity took its inspiration from the TV ad, which humorously reimagines pivotal moments in history, demonstrating in each scene how much better things could have been if phones had been invented – from starving cavemen ordering Deliveroo, to Henry VIII’s wives avoiding execution thanks to Tinder.

Taking this notion that phones make things better we took a step back and looked at the reason why? What do we use our phones for that is so great? The top answer: phones are good because they allow us to take photos at the drop of a hat – we can capture memorable moments in an instant and share them with our friends and the wider world.

But doesn’t the invention of the selfie, for example, encourage vanity and narcissism? The nay-sayers will ask. Maybe. But these facets of human behaviour have been around for centuries already, evidenced by the countless portraits people of high standing have commissioned of themselves throughout history. Portraits were the original selfie – they just took a lot longer to produce.

With this is in mind, we commissioned up-and-coming artist, Reuben Dangoor, to re-imagine how some of the world’s most famous portraits would have looked had phones been around.  Choosing some of the most iconic artwork of yesteryear Reuben re-imagined them through a mobile lens with tropes and poses from Instagram showing how these historical figures might have posed up a storm had they been alive for the era of the instant pic. The end product: a humorous, extremely well-received collection of artwork displayed in a fully Three branded gallery full of people engaging with the portraits, the wider campaign and the debate on whether Phones Are Good.

The aim of this campaign was not to actively force a self-serving and disingenuous message about how spending 20 hours a day on your phone is a good thing, but to give a knowing, gentle nod in the direction of their plus points amidst all the criticism and hysteria. Because phones are good when used properly and responsibly. Just imagine life without them…

Harry Gibson is Assistant Account Executive at W Communications