Skype went for the funny bone with its "Skype for String" April Fool's Day prank. But it's not aiming for chuckles with its current marketing push: a multi-channel $12 million campaign in the U.S. and the U.K. with the tagline "It's time for Skype."
Created by Pereira & O'Dell in San Francisco, "It's time for Skype" takes on competitive social media platforms with lines like the Facebook-dissing "Upgrade from a wall post to a first class conversation" and (in a swipe at Twitter) "140 characters doesn't equal staying in touch."
"It's rare that a campaign gives you the opportunity to address very relevant, timely cultural issues. Skype isn't solving the world's problems, but it has a point of view. This is more than just a marketing message with provocative headlines — our message is to help people truly connect in a genuine way," said Justin Cox, Pereira & O'Dell's senior strategic planner-mobile.
With an outdoor push including posters and wraps in the London Bank Subway, on the London Torch, electronic billboards on the Canary Wharf, digital posters on bus shelters and in the Eurostar departure terminal in London Heathrow Terminal, the tagline defines a campaign focused on social connections for family relationships and business travelers and posits that Skype puts humanity back in communication.
"It's Time for Skype" implies that social, online and mobile text-based communication “turns people into isolated social media zombies, whereas Skype is the only way to stay human while you keep in touch online.”
"We're proud of our video calls, but we also want them to know about our other products: screen-sharing, group video, file transfer, instant messaging, calls to mobile and landlines. The combination of features allows a more natural conversation," said Francie Strong, Skype's director of global customer-base marketing.
The digital campaign breaks April 19th with the same theme, but "taking the provocative nature down a notch or two," said Cox, and will appear on CNN, BBC, Facebook, Lonely Planet, AOL, Yahoo, Wired, MSN, Mailonline, iVillage, CBS, and Hulu. The social-media component has a budget of $2 million and includes hashtag #timeforskype as part of a Twitter promotion.
Skype will also launch an application on the Skype Facebook page that lets page fans create their own Humoticon and share it with their network.
This Skype Laughter Chain video from 2008 highlights the joy of staying human:
While this spot from 2007 shows how far the technology has come as “Aldo (from Stonevoice) configures Cisco UC500 (SBCS) and Stonevoice SkyStone from scratch and makes a call over the Skype protocol in less than 5 minutes (OUTGOING). Then he receives a call from Skype (INCOMING)! Astonishing!”
In October 2011 Microsoft acquired Skype’s 663 million registered users and all of the brand’s technologies for $8.5 billion. This latest campaign seems only fitting with such corporate ownership. As Strong says, "The focus is on big, bold statements to grab people's attention and get them to think about how they communicate."