By Hugo Greenhalgh on 29 Sep 2015
How can ethical brands get their voices heard?
While Apple fans queued round the block for the unveiling of the new iPhone 6s last week, a smartphone of a very different nature was being launched. The Fairphone 2 – an “ethical smartphone” – was revealed for the first time as part of the London Design Festival on Friday.
Fairphone working in partnership with the customer-owned Phone Co-op, have designed their product with a set of core social and ecological values in mind. The Dutch social enterprise has gone to great lengths to source as many of the precious metals in the phone as possible from conflict-free mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Fairphone 2 is also ‘modular’, meaning that parts can be upgraded easily, rather than needing to replace the whole handset, in a bid for a more sustainable form of consumerism.
Meanwhile, the Phone Co-op is the only customer-owned phone network and acts with social responsibility, supporting community ventures through investment and working with other co-operatives, ethical suppliers and local businesses. It is also a Living Wage employer and a founding member of the Fair Tax campaign – a group of organisations who pay their fair share of corporation tax.
In a competitive market of tech companies and network providers, it is key for brands like Fairphone and the Phone Co-op to emphasise their ethical message. The recent Volkswagen scandal has highlighted the reputational damage that can occur when there’s a mismatch between what a brand says and how it actually behaves. It’s vital that brands are true to their core ethos and remain honest. Fairphone has done this from the outset – making its list of suppliers public and providing a full cost breakdown showing where every penny spent on a Fairphone goes.
With this in mind, we helped Fairphone and the Phone Co-op to organise their launch event, which really captured the spirit of the two brands. Journalists were invited to hear from Fairphone CEO Bas van Abel and Phone Co-op Chief Executive Vivian Woodell about the new product and the ongoing partnership between the two brands.
They also had the chance to assemble the Fairphone 2 for themselves – getting the screwdrivers out to really understand the phone’s modular components.
Here are a few steps we took to ensure the event was a success:
1) Invitations: We encouraged the media to attend at short notice by emphasizing the exclusivity of the launch. This was the world preview of the final prototype of the Fairphone, their first opportunity to actually hold it and do a ‘first impressions’ review. We followed this up with good ol’ fashioned phone calls – targeting the key tech titles we knew would give the launch a good push. Despite the timeframe, we managed to fill the pop-up shop venue with media.
2) Photography: We hired an experienced photographer to capture the event properly. As well as taking shots of the products, it was crucial to highlight the partnership between Fairphone and the Phone Co-op through images. We needed to get these images out as soon as the event was over, so we had to work fast to make sure the photographer captured the best shots. This even meant pausing an interview to ensure we got the snap that told the story.
3) Social media: Whilst at the event, we used our own Twitter account @JournalistaLtd to Tweet photos and quotes from the CEOs’ speeches. Using the hashtag #Fairphone2, this helped to create a buzz around the launch and could be shared by the official accounts of the two brands.
4) Press release: We had a press release ready for distribution as soon as the event was over. We also asked the photographer to send us a selection of his best shots, which we could include in the release. This meant the media would have everything they needed to publish the story straight away.
Overall, the Fairphone 2 launch proved to be an effective showcase for client messaging with publications ranging from national (such as The Telegraph) to technology specialists (such as The Verge and Engadget) all picking up on the ethical angle in their coverage.