The ’80s are calling

Whether you love it or hate it, it's hard to miss the array of pastel

View page

Whether you love it or hate it, it’s hard to miss the array of pastel

spandex-clad workout fiends touting Koodo Mobile’s ‘fat-free mobility.’ The new Telus-owned brand launched this past April, promising to relieve disgruntled cellphone consumers from their current bloated plans.

‘What it came down to was understanding what we wanted to offer folks and getting back to the basics of cellphone communications,’ says Kevin Banderk, chief Koodo officer. ‘Taxi 2 came back with the term ‘fat-free mobility.’ It really stuck. It crystallized the entire idea of what we were trying to offer.’

The core Koodo target is Gen Y’ers who just want the basics – talk and text – and are fed up with being overcharged for the bells and whistles they don’t want. Since its competitors tend to be big media spenders, Koodo had to be strategic to break through the clutter.

‘The media buy is feeling heavier than it is,’ says Lance Martin, CD at Taxi 2. ‘[Media Experts] did a great job of buying areas where our target was and dominating them. And the colour palette we’ve chosen seems to really be getting noticed.’

Martin adds that the campaign was inspired by all things related to the ’80s workout craze, like the movie Perfect and, of course, the 20 Minute Workout.

The campaign includes TV, radio, online, POS and OOH elements. All executions feature peppy hard-bodies sweating through fat-burning routines.

We asked Eva Polis, CD at DDB Edmonton, and Brian Howlett, CCO at Toronto-based Agency 59, to weigh in on whether the Koodo launch campaign is buff or bloated.


Polis: I haven’t met anyone who loves this campaign, but many who hate it (granted, the nays tend to be outside of the demo). Personally, I like this branding effort overall. Koodo offers up more personality than Solo, but not as much as Virgin. The intent of the communication is clear – a relationship with Koodo will cost me less. This campaign gets top marks for art direction and bonus points for authentic ’80s styling. Bring back the leotard.

Howlett: Two admissions: One, I’ve never created a national telco campaign for a start-up – so this is better than anything I’ve ever done in the category; two, I spent more than 20 minutes in the ’80s watching a certain ‘exercise’ program. As for the strategy, ‘Fat-free mobility’ must have rung bells for someone in research so I’m not about to argue it. In terms of concept, it does jump out, and does communicate the offer. But a brand platform built around cheesy parody likely won’t have the staying power of, say, animals.


Polis: Nice art direction. Love the styling. Great casting. Easy to read. Clear communication. Just the right amount of spoof.

Howlett: Hard to miss. Not sure why some pieces have photo/payoff only while others add extra cheese with lines like ‘My text life has never been more satisfying.’ Didn’t Virgin Mobile just do that? I also don’t get the sweatband TSAs, or how it connects to everything else. Was it a teaser?


Polis: The only thing I like about the radio is the signature Koodo sign-off.

Howlett: Sometimes radio really needs the pictures. This is one of those times.


Polis: The three :15 spots are my campaign favourites – they did cut through on TV. I do take offence to the fact that males were treated to money shots in two of the spots and ladies were treated to lame karate kicks in the third (is the creative team male?). The :60 spot tries too hard to pull off the cheese and, in my opinion, annoys.

Howlett: Love the :60. Just wish they had given the guy a mullet like that crazy little man who jumps around my TV at night. The tone shifts, however. The outright parody of the :60 is muted in the :15s. Of course, chances are their youth audience won’t think about this nearly as hard as I am.

Website: (

Polis: Average, but consistent.

Howlett: The fat-free label graphics work really well as an organizing visual. But I’m not sure how many people will bother to sit through the video.

The creds

Koodo Mobile

Kevin Banderk, chief Koodo officer

Taxi 2

Steve Mykolyn, ECD; Lance Martin, CD; Ryan Wagman, ACD; Jess Willis, Irfan Khan, Alex Furrer, Ryan Grosman and Alexis Gropper, copywriters; Lance Vining, Nuno Ferreria, Virginia Magaletta, Shahin Edalati, Alison Garnett, Michael Morton and Johnnie Ingram, art directors

View Deconstructed page