Three Mobile UK pro-phone ad

Three Mobiles latest ad campaign - this is what Telecomms are resorting to?

I think they’re trying to ride the wave of rebellion off the back of the Nike Colin Kaepernick ad. To me it’s a cool idea but its irreverant and completely misses the point. Feedback on Youtube is awesome though.

I’m doing some talks on Digital Wellbeing in the coming months, would appreciate feedback on this!

I agree. Completely off the mark. This is taking a valid point and giving it giving it a completely different twist, through clever marketing spin. It positions those that warn about wellbeing and health effects, and social corrosion as the ‘haters’.

The technology in itself can be used for good and for bad, and the technology is here to stay. While some can choose to become ‘luddites’ and forego tech altogether, the majority of people will not, but they need to improve the way they deal with tech. This ad goes against the efforts to help them in this regard.

The ad would lend itself perfectly to create a counter-ad, that is just as funny and gripping. If only our Awareness Campaigns program was a bit further evolved we could create that quick response. But currently we cannot.


Who in these forums has ever said phones are bad? Pay close attention to the ad instead of projecting biases and you’ll see it’s just a joke “phones will end humanity” and doesn’t directly mention any humane tech issues.

The ad is funny. But the way it is perceived shows how the human mind is too keen to see things as black or white, when reality is actually never black or white but something nuanced and multidimensional.

I don’t know about you, but I’m for phones. Who isn’t?

Sorry, @Free, I don’t agree with you. I think @aschrijver hit the nail–or phone–on the head with his response. The ad undermines the efforts of phone and tech activists by presenting their claims of abuse, misuse, and addiction as outlandish and irrelevant. It’s a Big Brother approach using humor.

P.S. Why is the woman on the toilet? Do women only have serious thoughts on the toilet?

Yes @aschrijver it would be fun to do a counter-ad, showing what it would have actually happened in the depicted situations if smartphones were there. I.e.:

  • men missing the discovery of fire, even if accidentally in front of them, because they are all busy down on their smartphones, liking pictures of bisons, gazelles, etc.

  • Adam and Eve don’t know each other, because they are sitted on the opposite sides of the tree, down on their smartphones looking for someone with their interests nearby.

And so on…


While I see your point and that your statement is well thought out, you could be seeing more than what is really there. That’s dangerous because your statement could be seen as being untrue or a biased projection rather than an objective analysis.

My concerns are that all too often we criticise far too quickly, and often without a fair and logical reason.

That’s a dangerous path. It’s an ineffective strategy because it distracts focus from real problems. And it demonises the opposition (tech companies) instead of seeing them as intelligent and having both good and bad characteristics. We can end up falling to the same low level as the opposition. When we say false or illogical things about the opposition, it hurts our own credibility and makes us look like we’re just throwing insults. Remember our mission is to turn the opposition to our side. But this strategy will just embolden the opposition into seeing us as being not only wrong but also bad mannered.

This is something I see on a daily basis in even the “best” news media, who will often create an ethical scandal when in fact there is no story at all and the only thing they’re interested in is getting our attention through sensationalisation (“fake news” / lying) to make money from ads.

A perfect example of this is the Trump election. The opposition threw all kinds of insults, the “best” news media sprouted endless negative fake news, and in the end that arrogant strategy led to defeat because the opposition was not credible.

And of course phones are good. Who is even questioning that? Tristan has a phone. This isn’t the anti-technology cave man forum. :slight_smile:

The part showing somebody using a phone on a toilet was especially funny and profound.

It is a good point @Free! And also one that has been brought up in discussions for our Awareness Campaigns program, and we agree on that. See for instance this issue on Github: Proposed position statement on references and approach to tech companies.

Now, my reaction did not show the bias you claim it has. Looking at the marketing message that is packaged in the video (which I agree is very funny, btw), it aims to invoke a gut feeling against current efforts to improve tech. First it shows Humane Tech messages send out to the public (which people increasingly see coming from everywhere) as overly alarmist. Then the video continues showing - with funny sketches - that there are positive aspects to smartphones as well (which I agree there are too, as I mentioned, and which TimeWellSpent efforts also do not deny).

But in the comparison it brings up a ‘Phones’ versus ‘Haters’ score. And that is really, really wrong, IMHO. That is nefarious marketing, if you ask me. So the girl or guy that is kindly pointing out the health aspects of smartphones is being positioned as a naggy, alarmist, hater.

This ad, and its good production value, its potential to go viral, will greatly influence public opinion.

And finally besides the obvious message in there, it is flashy, quick-paced, colorful, sensational, superficial: It promotes the culture where we ‘just use all this great stuff’ without thinking and let the tech overcome us.

I have no qualms in discussing this and similar stuff on this forum in honest words, and don’t think it will do much harm too. This forum is not read by the masses, and if the company reads it, we can have a reasoned discussion.

But fully agree that where we do go public we should have a careful position as outlined on Github.


I’m one of the biggest phone haters of all. It got to the point that most days I didn’t even look at my phone at all. I didn’t “upgrade” for over 8 years. Then one day I found a great deal on a top end new smartphone. And actually nothing changed, only now I have 2 phones to not look at most days.

Mobile carriers like Three make more money when people use their phones more. The more addicted people are, the more money they make. It is like the attention-based economy. Apple and the other phone manufacturers also make more money when people use their phones more, since they end up selling more phones.

Nonetheless the ad makes many good points. Rather than ignoring humane tech, it actually references that phones are said to be bad. Good for them! The ad also shows many great uses of phones that have changed our lives for the better, like maps and taking photos of Moses, and contrasts that with some of the less loved uses of phones such as Eve being too distracted by a social network crush she has on Adam to take the snake’s apple in the Garden of Eden. Isn’t that glorious? I admire them for breaking the taboos and thinking differently. The point of all this isn’t to trick people into thinking phones are perfect, it’s admitting the phone’s flaws, and saying phones are worth it for the benefits. But yes I agree @aschrijver they do complain too much about haters. And yes @patm all life’s most serious thoughts happen on the toilet. :slight_smile:

I’m sure some serious thoughts also happen on the operating table, at the wedding altar, at the Thanksgiving meal, in homeless shelters, and other places.

I just read an article quoting Tim Cook and Giovanni Buttarelli, Europe’s data protection supervisor. Though I can’t prove it, I believe that the weaponization cited is happening rapidly because of the increase in smartphone use. Here’s a quote:

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has joined the chorus of voices warning that data itself is being weaponized against people and societies — arguing that the trade in digital data has exploded into a “data industrial complex”.

Cook did not namecheck the adtech elephants in the room: Google, Facebook and other background data brokers that profit from privacy-hostile business models. But his target was clear.

“Our own information — from the everyday to the deeply personal — is being weaponized against us with military efficiency,” warned Cook. “These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded and sold.

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This ad is brilliant, but I agree, nefarious. “Phones Be Good!” is the message, casting aside due considerations about humane technology and all the abuse we fully know is going on every day.

The woman starts by seeing apocalyptic statements about technology. The score card opposes phones to “haters” (when will people realize that whenever someone use the word “haters”, it is with manipulative intent?)

Good to see actually that a phone company takes humane technology concepts so seriously that they deemed it urgent to try and kill the whole thing in the egg.

Also good takeaways for our initiatives. Humor doesn’t hurt if we want to go viral (someone made that very point on this forum) and apocalyptic statements will be dismissed as far-fetched. Very important to not antagonize an audience we are trying so hard to convince about what are well-documented concerns.