Contenders at Cannes 2023: Skinny – Phone It In | Colenso BBDO

Leading up to Cannes Lions, we showcase creative campaigns submitted from across the Asia Pacific.

Campaign Background

Colenso BBDO

Skinny is a New Zealand mobile company with a track record of saving customers money through smart and thrifty advertising hacks. We understand that when Skinny spends big money on advertising, it’s their customers that ultimately pay the price.

The brief was to create a low-cost, interactive campaign that furthered Skinny’s mission to keep prices low while making the product (mobiles) integral to the idea.

Creative Idea

Celebrities charge millions of dollars to be in ads. Skinny doesn’t have millions of dollars. So, to bypass expensive voice talent and pricey recording studios, Skinny launched ‘Phone it In’, a low-cost campaign that open-sourced radio scripts via out-of-home placements so Kiwis could record them on their mobile phones, for free.


Growth for Skinny relies on finding ways to broaden its audience and engage new people.

We can’t compete on spend – we don’t have big budgets, and we can’t afford expensive media.

Skinny’s motto is to do whatever it takes to keep prices low and customers happy. We needed a campaign that brought this to life, and reinforced our commitment to value for customers.

Historically, we’ve recruited faux-celebrities and customers for campaigns. But this time, we turned to everyday New Zealanders, customer or not. We offered literally anyone in the country an opportunity to participate in our campaign, and earn their moment of fame.

We turned up all over the place, inviting people to share the Skinny message.

In an era where user-generated content for brands feels dated, we turned up with a real-world user-generated content campaign, and it worked. Kiwis were convincing other Kiwis to ‘Get the Skinny’.


Hundreds of Skinny radio scripts were published across the country. From standard placements like billboards and regional newspapers, to takeaway coffee cups, bar coasters, movie screens, early morning TV ad slots, social media, and a street poster blitz. Each script was written to be contextually relevant to its location, creating bespoke radio executions.

“65% of calls came from Skinny’s competitors’ customers”

Above every script was a call-to-action that included a free-to-call number that took callers to the automated ‘Skinny Radio Ad Recording Service’ (which is essentially an answering machine). From there, the recordings were given the trademark Skinny mnemonic and dispatched as radio ads.


What we ended up with was a nation-wide out-of-home campaign that doubled as a radio campaign that became Skinny’s most effective recruitment campaign ever.

  • 2,560 radio ads were recorded by ordinary New Zealanders, equating to 22 hours of content that didn’t cost us a cent to record.
  • Skinny acquisitions went up 34% year-on-year, while in the same period, churn went down 26%.
  • 65% of calls came from Skinny’s competitors’ customers.
  • Over three years of consistent brand-building activity, we’d shifted Consideration from 35% in 2018 to 41% in 2021. Just 6% in four years. Phone It In shifted it another 6% shift… in just two months.

The Work

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