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Vodafone apologises for sending people 'smashed' pictures of themselves as marketing tactic

The picture frames were sent to a number of journalists as part of a campaign.

VODAFONE IRELAND HAS apologised to two female journalists after they were sent framed photos of themselves that appeared to have been smashed as part of a marketing campaign. 

Journalists and others working in the media were sent press packages containing the framed photos in recent days, accompanied by material promoting a new service allowing customers on any network to have their phone screens fixed in Vodafone stores.

Consumer and finance journalist Sinead Ryan, who was sent one of the photos, said the campaign was a “serious PR misstep” by the phone company, tweeting: 

“Don’t care what you’re advertising; I had a stalker once who sent me one too. For real. Did this look ‘cute’ at your planning meeting??”

Personal finance journalist Jill Kerby was also critical of the move. In response to the photo she received, she tweeted: “Like…women journalists love getting framed pictures of themselves that someone has stamped on.” 

Other journalists said in response to Ryan’s initial post that the campaign was “creepy” and “sinister”. 

There was also some positive reaction to the picture-based campaign online, with other recipients describing the photos as “smashing” and “cool”. 

The ‘smashed’ effect was achieved by using a vinyl overlay over the top of the picture’s surface, giving the appearance of a smashed surface.

It appears people’s images were taken from their social media feeds as part of the campaign, which was an extension of advertisements for the service placed in the front windows of participating stores. 

At the stores, vinyl overlays were placed on the exterior of the buildings to give the impression that the glass has been shattered.


As part of the campaign TV presenter Doireann Garrihy was pictured behind one of the windows, where she had her picture taken for images which were shared alongside the press release.

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As well as the personalised framed picture and images of Garrihy, the media package also included a Vodafone branded leaflet alongside the press release. 

The release included quotes from a Vodafone Ireland spokesman who said that the company was launching a screen repair service because “accidents happen”.

“Thanks to ‘Vodafone Fix&Go’, the day where customers have to wait weeks for their phone repair is well and truly gone,” it said.

Responding to Sinead Ryan’s initial tweet, Vodafone said

We apologise sincerely and wholeheartedly for any upset caused by our media outreach. Our intention was not to cause any distress. The frame and accompanying information leaflet were intended to highlight the launch of our new fix & go screen repair service. Our intention was to draw the association between smart phone photos and selfies and shattered glass screens and the service, which seeks to offer mobile users a speedy in-store  screen fix solution.

Responding to a request for comment from TheJournal.ie Vodafone Ireland reiterated that the photos were part of a wider campaign and added: 

It was never our intention to cause upset to any of the recipients and we have apologised directly to the two journalists who raised the issue on Twitter for any distress caused to them.

Vodafone Grafton Vinyl advertisements for the campaign in a Vodafone store in Dublin Source: Vodafone Ireland

- With reporting by Daragh Brophy  

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