Do Koodo ads cross line?

by Paul Jay, CBCNews.ca

When Telus Corp introduced its Koodo brand earlier this year, wireless bloggers and analysts wondered aloud about the branding strategy, which seemed focused on dissing practices, such as the charging of System Access Fees, that the parent company itself still engaged in.

It was perplexing, but it was also undeniably successful, as I wrote earlier this year. It also had enough of an impact on the market to force rival brands Fido and Solo, the discount entrants of Rogers and Bell respectively, to also drop the system access fee, leading some to speculate the fee could be going the way of the dodo in Canada. Which is good news for consumers, who will now be able to get a better read on the final cost of their cell phone plan.

The question of inconsistency between the messages Telus was sending through its eponymous brand and Koodo also seemed moot, since for the most part Koodo skirted this line well, trumpeting its lack of the hated fee and fixed-term contracts without expressly condemning the practice entirely.

Koodo's latest ads, however, appear to have crossed that line. Here's a sampling from the lyrics of one of their ads:

"Fixed-term contracts, excess fees, are so gross and sleazy. Just say no and get Koodo. And please don’t eat yellow snow."

It's one thing to suggest that a fixed-term contract or a system access fee, as another companion ad suggests, "smell." Such language could be considered in the spirit of the garish tone of the brand's ad campaign. But the word "sleazy" is another matter entirely. It suggests intent, and malicious intent at that.

No doubt, if comments on our articles here at CBC.ca are any indication, many consumers might share the opinion that a three-year contract or the charging of a system access fee could be considered "sleazy."

But it seems disingenuous at best for a company that continues to offer contracts with those very terms to make the same claim through another brand, unless there are changes afoot planned for the parent brand to do away with some of those features.