Case study: the launch of “3” UMTS services

The definition of a trend setter is one of an individual who, due to his / her popularity and status within a specific group, is capable of influencing its members’ behaviour and opinions. Trend setters can be found in almost every industry (fashion is probably the main one), and they are frequently seen by advertising professionals as an important marketing tool in the launch of new products.

In summer 2003, the mobile telephony company “3” used trend setters to launch the new UMTS technology, which allows callers to see each other during a video call. “3” was the first mobile company to introduce UMTS services to Italian commercial clients. “3” selected 333 VIPs from various sectors (showbiz, sport, journalism, politics) and made them brand ambassadors. The list of VIPs included names such as soccer players Paolo Maldini and Stefano Bettarini, MPs Ignazio Larussa and Walter Veltroni, showgirl Elisabetta Canalis, actor and director Carlo Verdone and former Italian president Francesco Cossiga. All of them were provided with “3” branded phones, and the possibility to be the first ones to use the new and innovative video call service.    

“3” also recruited and trained 200 former models, and sent them to attend luxury events, such as exclusive private parties, golf, horse riding, and tennis tournaments and tour the most fashionable Italian clubs to hook up with high-spending clients.

“3” launched its services in Italy in March 2003. By the end of the same year, 59% of the Italian mobile phone users were subscribed to “3”.

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