Vodacom's iPhone 4 VIP media launch

Posted by Charmed
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on Thursday, 23 September 2010
in Digital Blogs

On Friday, 17 September, Vodacom’s PR called me to invite me for a phone that was being launched at midnight, 21/22 September. 

The lady who called said she cannot reveal what phone is being launched and all she can say is that it is “highly anticipated”.

So I received a written invite which said at the end, “Kindly note that as a VIP media guest, you just need to tell security at the gate your name and they will show you to the designated parking area to the left of Vodaworld.”

On Tuesday night, I got to Vodaworld just after 10pm, and was directed to the VIP “tent”, which was somewhat disappointing. Honestly, I expected better, or something indoors; instead of standing out in the cold. After chatting and having drinks, it was apparent people couldn’t wait for it to be over.

Eventually VIP guests started looking at their watches, waiting for midnight, for the “big unveiling” – because that’s what you’d expect from a midnight launch of a phone whose name could not be revealed.

Meanwhile, the actual party that everyone who “retweeted Vodacom” to gain entry to, took place in the parking lot, in front of the VIP tent. If you ask me, it looked like a rent-a-crowd. Why would anyone dance away in the cold, knowing they weren’t there for an iPhone 4, do it with such enthusiasm? 

Close to midnight, the Vodacom PR ladies asked us to make our way inside Vodaworld, because that’s where “everything was taking place”. This was at 23:57.

We (media), get inside and the PR ladies have no idea WHERE we’re meant to be. The looked at each other confused, saying they don’t know what is happening. Really? And you call yourself PR? Wow.

At 00:00, stores within Vodaworld opened their doors to the public/consumers (those select few who actually got a call back) who preordered the iPhone 4. I added my name to the list immediately when it was open for everyone to do so but did I get a call back? No. Not even an SMS (just one, the day after the launch, to say something about it being sold out on its debut).

While the media were left hanging and wondering what is happening, I left at 0:08. The rent-a-crowd was still partying for a phone they probably couldn’t afford (and even if they did, is now ‘sold out’).

My question is why did Vodacom invite the media? Did they think it would be amusing to invite us when we could have been asleep at that hour, just to say sorry, we don’t know what’s happening?

I find it contemptible the way we were treated. 

Vodacom, do you expect to be taken seriously the next time? 

If that is how you treat “VIP media”, I’d rather NOT be on any list of yours.

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Comments

Guest
anish_sana Thursday, 23 September 2010

And here I was kicking myself for not retweeting Vodacom's tweet for an invite. I guess beauty sleep was the better option :)

Guest
Princessechoes Thursday, 23 September 2010

On the other hand, the MTN launch was a slick, well executed affair and I haven't heard a single complaint.

Not so well played, Vodacom.

Guest
talhah Thursday, 23 September 2010

Vodacom cleary threw this "party" in a last ditch attempt at keeping up with MTN for this launch.

Read all about the MTN launch here http://www.capetowngirl.co.za/index.php/2010/09/23/joburg-holograms-and-a-secret-iphone-4-launch/

Guest
Richard Boorman Thursday, 23 September 2010

Yike! As my Grandmother would say: we can't do right for doing wrong. Go over the top and we get accused of corporate largesse, not enough and we're accused of treating guests with contempt. Strong words. The whole idea was to throw a party for iPhone fans, and we just thought that some of the media would enjoy it as well. Apologies if it wasn't what you exptected.

Dissol
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Dissol Thursday, 23 September 2010

I had forgotten that I had asked to be notified when the iPhone 4 became available. So I found it a little odd to suddenly get a message saying "Thank you for your interest in the new iPhone 4...it was however SOLD OUT..." Now, that is a really stupid message to get. Think about it. "You wanted to know when something was available, and this is a message telling you it isn't!!" Plus, the reason for it not being available is because it sold out...or another way of looking at it - we did not order enough for the demand... Dreadful PR. But pleased to learn I can get one on MTN now. Need to look at prices, as it will probably be cheaper to buy overseas, knowing how all Apple prices get inflated as they arrive in SA.

SimonB
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SimonB Friday, 24 September 2010

OMW this is where it gets really sad, the PR firm who invited me to the Vodacom event is tha same PR firm who invited me to the Samsung Africa Forum a few months back. I am not even going to mention what happen to me at that event, otherwise we will be here all day. Needless to say, my view of Samsung is rather sad atm. However after reading this blog and putting 1&1 together something tells me the PR firm behind this better pull up their socks. I understood the Samsung stuffup because hell there where 3000 people at that event but the Vodacom gig was small fry and should have ran smoothly.

Sorry to hear you had a bad time Charmed. Glad though that I pulled out the day before, probably one of the best choices I have made in a while. If I had flown all the way in from Plett and had that experiance, heads would have been rolling. Especially considering my last Samsung experiance.

I have had a few good working experiances with the lovely ladies of the PR firm mentioned above and it's sad to hear these stories of #brandfail - Lets hope they get their act together very soon before all the big brands pull out and they are left jobless :(

Ladies, please don't remove me from your list, rather pick up your socks and work harder to improve and bring your firm back to the top notch firm it used to be.

Dissol
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Dissol Saturday, 25 September 2010

So I found out that I was eligible for an upgrade. Went to MTN in Canal Walk. And came out with a brand new iphone 4! I can finally get rid of my useless HTC phone (are of the worst phones I have had the misfortune to own). iPhone 4 clearly is an improvement. The resolution of the screen is better than my iTouch. Nice to be able to pick one up as an upgrade!:)

Jas
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Jas Saturday, 25 September 2010

that reminds me of IBM... Inviting print (online) journalists to an event and when we get there, telling us we're there to provide media (video) interviews with the people at the event... Again, it was all a PR mess-up. Ah well, at least we got a few days out of Jozi...

Guest
zk Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Lucky for me Vodaworld was too far away to drive alone ;D
but here is my view on how MTN got the online marketing campaign right...
http://zahira.co.za/blog/2010/09/22/how-mtn-launched-the-iphone-right/


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