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Buena Vista, Coca-Cola, L’Oreal, Yell, sign-up to fund free MVNO, Blyk


UK kids to get free calls and texts in return for ads | The Register

A mobile phone start-up will offer UK teenagers free phone calls and texts in return for listening to adverts from this summer.

Blyk, the company behind the scheme, has already signed Buena Vista, Coca-Cola, L’Oreal Paris, and for the British launch. It is rumoured to be close to a network deal with Orange.

The company will target 16 to 24 year olds, who will “earn” free phone calls and text messages in exchange for receiving adverts on their phones.

Alex spotted this one — it’s all about ‘free’ MVNO, Blyk. Very interesting. Looks like there’s more movement. For quite a while I’ve been staring at a blank Blyk blog!

I’m excited to see what they come up with…

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

2 replies on “Buena Vista, Coca-Cola, L’Oreal, Yell, sign-up to fund free MVNO, Blyk”

I’m slightly dubious about whether there is enough advertising to make the model work. I.e. It’s expensive to pay for SMS and Voice (off-net SMS and Voice anyway), and as such they’ll only be able to give away X amount of credit per month. If X isn’t enough for the 16-24 yo, then they’ll stay on O2 or Three and get phenomenally good deals anyway. This is also the easiest demographic of users to alienate and dare I say it patronise. The subscribers will know they’re getting exploited to advertising to pay for their credit, and they’ll do the math: ‘The arse of getting advertising messages you keep having to delete etc/getting your SMS cut short with tags etc/your voicemail in between ads VS the cost benefit of getting some free credit’. The fact that most of the subscribers will imho be there because they’ve done this calculation, realised they’re totally exploited by ‘brand nation’ anyway, and said ‘sod it what’s a bit more advertising to me’ clearly diminishes the value of the actual brand message. Ultimately that’s no different to the afore mentioned ‘brand nation’ anyway, it’s just this medium is exceedingly expensive to subsidise, and the telling point will be whether the advertisers keep paying. Sure a bunch will sign up initially. If nothing else they’re getting some cheap advertising/share holder pleasing ‘look at how funky & youth we are’ fodder, but will they hang around if the results don’t justify the fees. I kind of hope they do, since this is totally disruptive, and I love disruption :). I just have this sneaking feeling in two years time they’ll have taken a further $xxxx in funding to subsidise the advertising that’s subsidising the traffic

Furthermore I appreciate that the youth market is exceedingly price conscious/savvy, and i also know Blyk has put one hell of a lot of research into this venture. However I can’t help but think that this would be better suited to a slightly younger demographic, i.e. the 12-16 year olds. Obviously you then have the issue of advertising to under 16’s – which you can’t do in the UK.

I’m never been too convinced by the choice of name, but the branding seems quite inclusive and it’s more sensible than ESPN/Disney/Extreme Mobile. Anyone who knows me knew I was panning these before they all failed/didn’t even launch.. I’m still amazed at how many folks argued with me that they’d be successful – you know who you are!

In summary, I like that someone is trying this, they have an awesome (by all counts) management team, and they have some cash. I really hope that they do something special. I just appreciate that they have their work cut out!

btw if someone wants to pay me loads and loads of cash as a their trend and futures expert i’m all ears 😉

Good luck Blyk!


Certainly one to watch and that is going to provide some entertainment over the next few years. But personally I am not backing this one at all…they have some serious hurdles to overcome: a dodgy name; the words “coca cola advertising” and “16 year olds” in the same sentence; a cat in hells chance that the other networks are gonna let this one off the starting block.


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