Videotron - Pranked Technicians (Quebec)

Events, Seasonal and Short-Term (GOLD)

Client Credits: Videotron

Agency Credits: SID LEE
Creative Director - Sid Lee
Copy Writer - Sid Lee
Art Director - Sid Lee
Production - TVA Accès
Editing - Vision Globale
Sound - Boogie Studio
Postproduction - FLY
Making of - Les Productions Passez Go


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):May 2012 – August 2012
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: May 15, 2012
Base Period as a Benchmark: Calendar 2012

a) Overall Assessment

The Canadian communications industry is growing significantly.  Revenues have increased 3.3%, from $57.4 to $59.3 billion in 2011.  This increase was mostly attributed to the telecommunications industry (+2.5%), which saw a steep increase in revenue from a boom in data services.  It’s important to keep in mind that the incredible overall gains made are slightly dampened by the statistics due to a significant loss in long-distance revenues. The communications industry has become one of the most profitable businesses today, where communication products are virtually found in almost every single Canadian household (13.7 million households) and each household spends on average $181 per month on these services.  This accounts for approximately 4.1% of all household spending and is equal to what households typically spend on healthcare. 


This profitable industry has generated an influx of competition scrambling to take a piece of the pie.  Specifically, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) made a significant impact in the market accounting for 24% of all retail local lines.  New wireless entrants captured 4% of wireless subscribers and 2% of revenues in 2011. Increasing competition is forcing telecommunications companies to compete based on product offering and price instead of communicating unique and resonating campaigns. 


In addition to a hostile competitive market, we had the challenge of managing Quebec’s moving season, which is a highly strategic time for telecom businesses. It’s the time of the year when customers are lost or gained. In the months preceding July, brands launch new offers and improve their price competitiveness, while mobile phone companies such as Telus or Rogers, urge consumers to leave their landline behind. Others, such as Bell, focus their campaign on price and promotions.


Videotron wanted a bigger slice of the pie and tasked us with a triple challenge: Making the most of this period by gaining new customers, retaining current customers and convincing existing customers to add new services to their subscription while avoiding the one-upmanship game. 

b) Resulting Business Objectives

Marketing Objectives:

  • To increase subscribers by 15,618, or 33% of the year’s annual growth
  • Retain and cross-sell other products to current customers

Communication Objectives:

  • To increase attraction capital and sympathy towards the brand
  • To increase client service calls during April and May
  • To increase web traffic to the microsite

c) Annual Media Budget

d) Geographic Area

Footnote 1: CRTC Communications Monitoring Report 2012

a) Analysis and Insight

First and foremost, price and product are the preliminary factors customers use to determine their communications provider. Therefore, communications competitors almost always put product and price as the focus of their marketing campaigns.  This strategy creates a significant amount of undifferentiated advertising that renders our target desensitized. Videotron challenged us to come up with a new way to obtain potential clients during a highly competitive time of year: Quebec’s moving season. In the months of June and July, telecommunications companies are thrown into fierce competition to retain, gain and cross-sell clients, therefore it’s a crucial time to craft a resonating campaign. 


To do this, we had to be more insightful to reach those who were moving. We found that compared to the competition, service is precisely what Videotron does best. Satisfaction scores for Videotron’s client services have ranked between 97% and 98% in the past years therefore, the best angle to reach customers during the moving period was clear: focus on Videotron’s customer service. This insight allowed for a resonating communication axis, based on the notion of “Infinite Satisfaction”. Moreover, the use of the word ‘infinite’ created a strong echo with the brand’s notorious “Infinite Power” communication platform from the year before. 

b) Communication Strategy

The year prior, Videotron had focused on client services for their campaign.  Videotron pranked their telephone client services line by using Anglophone comedian Sugar Sammy and Francophone comedian Andre Philippe Gagnon.  The comedians made a series of prank calls to Videotron’s client services which was recorded to create a series of videos to be distributed via television and online.  This campaign had widespread success therefore we knew that it would be a challenge to surpass what we had accomplished the year prior. 


We found that in order to go above and beyond the campaign of 2011, Videotron had to prank the very root of their client service team: the technicians.  Technicians need to have excellent personal skills since they are the first person-to-person contact with the clients.  This strategy was difficult for Videotron to approve due to the possibility of unexpected outcomes, but eventually it was chosen for the 2012 campaign. This strategy would humanize Videotron’s current marketing initiatives and go above and beyond simply advertising products and services in hopes to become the most salient telecommunications company in Quebec.  Only television, print and web content was created due to the short term of the campaign.   

a) Media Used

1 – Print

2 - Television

3 – Micro-website

b) Creative Discussion

We decided to create a 360° campaign titled “Infinite Satisfaction” showcasing fake customers testing Videotron’s service and professionalism.  A separate micro-site would be created in order to host and link all the content created for this campaign.  Although effective, a 360° campaign comes with significant risks:  we must be able to drive potential customers to the website through TV and print.  To do this, the television ads had to be particularly intriguing and resonate with our target.  We then concluded that we had to raise the bar and exceed what we had done the year prior: prank the technicians in a ‘fake’ home with comedians acting as customers. 


We rented a home for 5 days where the garage was transformed into the operations centre and a Winnebago at the back of the house served as an office for Videotron.  Hidden cameras were installed in the house 2 days prior to filming to ensuring we could capture the technicians’ expressions and reactions to our ‘traps’.  Unknown actors were selected because we did not want the technicians to recognize them.  These actors were given a scenario and a personality but were not provided with a script to create an improvised scene.  The actors had transparent transmitters in their ear so we could tell them what to do and say to the technicians.  The technicians were called directly by their manager in order to minimize the chance they would hear about the prank through other previously trapped technicians.    


Hidden cameras caught six Videotron technicians in uncomfortable situations, from a woman asking a technician to secretly install Videotron products while her husband who works for Bell is out, to a narcoleptic customer constantly falling asleep and repetitively asking the same questions about Videotron services. These pranks underlined Videotron’s differentiating elements in customer service, such as configuration & demonstration services, same-day & evening installation, and 30-day satisfaction guarantee.  These pranks also positioned the brand as a content creator in addition to a telecom provider; an important added value in an industry where advertising is generally undifferentiated.


Between May 15 and June 15 2012, these pranks were made available on the website and were promoted with TV, web and print media to generate qualified leads. Beyond its entertainment value, the website offered address changes along with other tools for worriless moves. Of course, the website gave more details about Videotron’s products and promotions. Additionally, Videotron’s YouTube channel showed longer versions of the TV spots, exclusive messages, and behind-the-scenes videos, which invited the audience to change their address online or by phone. Print ads solidified the campaign by showing the different advantages of Videotron’s customer service. The promise of “Infinite Satisfaction” not only allowed Videotron to emphasize superiority of the company’s installation service, but also channelled interest beyond just the entertaining videos.  This campaign led to significant gains as well as maintaining and cross-selling to its current clientele.  

c) Media Discussion

As discussed above.

a) Sales/Share Results

With a relevant message and a powerful 360° approach, the campaign reached and even outperformed the targeted objectives. While the set objective was to achieve a 15,618 growth (33% of the annual growth objective), Videotron gained 88,153 new customers, including 30,000 in multi-products. Among existing customers, 31% added one service to their subscription and 9% added two services. The web campaign allowed great customer retention by having generated 28,226 address changes, an increase of 38,5% compared to 2011. From a communication standpoint, according to the post-campaign tests conducted by Léger Marketing, 26% of the respondents who saw the campaign now have a more positive view of the company, and 71% think it is even friendlier now. The videos of the pranked technicians have been viewed 223,979 times on YouTube and the Videotron website received 118,960 visits, an increase of 64% compared to 2011.


In light of these results, we can say that Videotron’s 2012 Pranked Technicians was a great success from both a commercial and a communication point of view. Not only were Sid Lee and Videotron were able to attract new customers, retain actual clients and encourage cross selling, but they also did so without focusing on product and price.  

b) Consumption/ Usage Results

c) Other Pertinent Results

d) Return on Investment

a) General Discussion

Videotron’s previous new product launches did not significantly lift total revenues in the past.  Moreover, Videotron’s products, prices and media budgets, people and processes remained roughly the same between 2011 and 2012.  Videotron desired to achieve 15,618 new customers after the 2012 campaign (33% of the annual growth objective) but we managed to go above and beyond by gaining 88,153 new customers, including 30,000 in multi-product subscriptions.  This was 18% higher than what Videotron had expected for a typical campaign.  This campaign proved that a powerful insight and unique execution could be extremely lucrative for Videotron and foster loyalty among its current and potential clientele.  

b) Excluding Other Factors
Spending Levels:




Distribution Changes:


Unusual Promotional Activity:


Other Potential Causes:

An increase of 2.5% in overall telecommunication revenues in the previous year may have attributed to some of Videotron’s success, but does not account for the majority of their gains.