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Posted by on Apr 28, 2011 in Advertising, Mobile, Web | 5 comments

Vodacom in Red Bulls Overkill

Red may well be hotter. It is possibly even simpler. Another thing that red definitely is becoming, in my mind, is annoying. Garishly, irritatingly annoyingly annoying. And Vodacom’s “is red” advertising campaign to promote their new corporate image and, yes you guessed it, their colour change from blue to red, is rapidly getting to that point.

Red may be simpler, but I for one am rapidly getting turned off by it. And that is probably not what the marketers were aiming for. This is what ad blocking software was made for!

Just how much red is enough?

vodacom red overkill on sport24Case in point is the screen shot that I grabbed a little earlier today. It’s from the sport24 web site, and tells the sorry tale of local Super Rugby franchise, the Bulls, doing something that the teams’ loyal supporters would never have imagined in their wildest imaginations: the team will forsake their iconic blue colours and wear red jerseys for their upcoming game against the Chiefs. And to rub salt into the red wound, the match is being played at the ceremonial home of all things blue and bullish, Loftus Versveld in Pretoria.

As is patently obvious from the screen shot, Vodacom have managed to cover every possible piece of available screen real estate with their new logo and that delightful, easy on the eyes shade of red that they’ve been harping on about for the past few weeks. Appealing isn’t it? Makes you want to dash out right now and invest a whole bunch of green backs on something red from the catalogue of dropped calls and poor signal strength that is the reality of Vodacom’s’ network in places in Jozi.

And there’s the rub folks. Rather than spending what is probably an obscene amount of money on telling us something that we worked out almost immediately, and on pissing a bunch of Blue Bulls fans off at the same time, Vodacom should be spending all that moola on sorting out their network issues and training their staff on developing understanding of the terms “customer” and “service”. Especially when they realise that all that ad spend on web advertising is wasted on people like me who routinely employ the services of ad blocking add-ins in my browsing. Here’s the same page screen shot a little later, with an ad blocker running:

About this much red is enough!

vodacom red overkill adblocked

In all fairness, the post has since been updated with more information and an actually story to go with the single sentence that was its’ sole content initially, and Super Sports’ Brenden Nel does a  good job of explaining  the once-off marketing event.

Kudos though to the Vodacom marketing and sponsorship department for cornering an angle that RedBull Mobile could have milked for significant benefits. The Red Bulls doesn’t have quite the same alliterative ring as the Blue Blues, but it would make long term benefits.

The question of the journalistic integrity of a sport news web site posting a ‘news report’ on Vodacoms’ behalf without declaring that it is quiet possibly a sponsored piece is a secondary issue entirely. As a media outlet or publication, you get to choose whether you use a press release or not. With the amount of ad space dominating this page, I guess the decision to run the information was a lot easier for the sport24 editor to make.

If you can handle all the redness, you’ll find the article here:


  1. I hate Vodacom now wish I never Ported.

    • +1 to Sean – glad that we’re not the only ones less than impressed. Colour me un-red!

  2. The reason why Vodacom is going on and on about “being red” is cause they’ve been bought over by Vodafone UK. This was in the pipeline for years. It’s probably the chumps from UK forcing the “higher ups” to shove the rebranding down our throats. And complain all u want about Vodacom’s signal. U know mtn, cell c, etc, r worse. And at least Vodacom’s call centre is at least better than the other cellular service providers

    • Henry you sound like a Vodacum plant trying desperately to cover up their screw up! Your statement that VC have the best signal and call centre is utter crap, and spoken like a true VC marketing plant.

      Everyone knows that Vodafone are the majority shareholder and that this rebranding is part of their agreement. In fact anyone on a VC contract wirth a smartphone will have seen the VFone logo as their handsets startup splash screen fro the last 18+ months already!

      What people are getting bitchy about is not the f-ing rebranding, everyone is cool with that. It’s how the campaign has been delivered, and how it is being managed. We get the message already FFS – Vodacom is red. Yay. Woop-de-do. Now can we get onto to fixing the services and signal.

      This disgraceful hijacking of the Bulls is just the straw that broke the camels back. The BLUE Bulls are an institution in this country. And its been around much longer than VC or VFone for that matter. Bastardising one brand for the commercial gain of another is a horrendous strategy to be pursuing. It’s enough that the new logo and name are on the jerseys and that every availalbe space on the field and on the stadium is covered with it. We get message already. Red. Yay.

    • To prove the point you may want your VC marketing team to check out some of the comments on that sport24 article. Here’s a couple to save you some time:

      > The End Of The “GREAT BLUE MACHINE” , it was along time coming , don’t tell me one game , where there is smoke there is fire

      > To hell with vodacom

      > No more the Blou Bulle. The Rooi Koie seems to suit them much better

      > This is gay

      > I’m not a Bulls supporter, but you guys sure have my sympathies for the f@ckery Vodacom is putting you through. Changing from blue to red in ‘commemoration’ of Vodacom’s new livery, even as a once off, is just bloody disgraceful. South African brands get away with far too much, compared to their Oz and Kiwi counterparts. Is nothing sacred?

      > sell outs!!!!!

      > RED jersey’s to match the REd faces after so many losses as a CHAMPION team, quite appropriate I believe

      > It’s all over for the Bulls. . . .this is rediculous

      > the bulls have always been blue , as far back as Northen Transvaal . now you have these clowns at Vodacom that change things, Rugby has been here longer Vodacom , take your new look at shove it

      > Vodacom is in the process of making a lot of people very angry doing a lot of damage to their brand change.

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