A “cash vending machine” marketing stunt that caused a mob at Raffles Place on Wednesday (28 February) has been revealed as a publicity campaign for telco Circles.Life’s new pay-per-day unlimited mobile data plan.
At a press conference on Thursday, the virtual telco announced that the new service will allow customers to activate unlimited 4G+ data for $3 per day with no contract.
The marketing stunt, which went viral on social media, saw hundreds of participants lining up outside Chevron House on Wednesday afternoon to get a chance of walking away with “free money”. The rules were simple: Feed $3 into a “vending machine” to get $50 in return.
The event – publicised as #3dollarballer on social media – was called off abruptly by organisers, who initially cited “safety” issues for its cancellation. Yahoo News Singapore understands that it was held without a permit and police were on scene to assist in managing the growing crowd.
The first session of the campaign was held on Orchard Road on Tuesday between 5pm to 8pm, but had attracted a smaller and manageable crowd.
While Delbert Ty, head of marketing for Circles.Life, declined to reveal the exact amount given out during the campaign, he said that it amounted to “a couple of thousands” of dollars.
“Our objective is really to understand what our target audience likes and what will catch their attention,” said Ty. “They will hopefully find (the stunt) cool…(and) have a good sense of humour about what we did and see the bigger picture.”
A post shared by Circles.Life (@circleslifesg) on Feb 28, 2018 at 8:19pm PST
In a separate statement issued on Thursday, the company spokesperson played down the suggestion that the event was called off because they did not have a permit, calling it “an unprecedented event which no one has attempted before”.
“Given this, there was no existing information on whether this activity required a permit. The event ending prematurely had more to do with managing the massive interest (in) the activity,” said the spokesperson.
A second scheduled event near 313@Somerset mall on Wednesday at 5pm was also cancelled because “all the $50 notes were fully redeemed”, wrote organisers online on the same day.
The spokesperson clarified on Thursday that the event was cancelled due to concerns over “extreme interest” from the public and advice given by the police.
The telco is no stranger to unorthodox marketing stunts. In March last year, the company teamed up with social media personalities Youtiao666 to “vandalise” the billboards of fictional competitor SGMobile.
The stunt was later revealed on SGMobile’s Facebook page to be an elaborate campaign by Circles.Life to announce a no-contract plan offering 20GB at $20.
Stiff competition in mobile data space
Circles.Life’s announcement on Thursday will make it the fourth telco – and the second virtual telco – to offer unlimited data usage on any given day.
‘We realised (consumers) didn’t want unlimited data throughout….We wanted to offer something more flexible,” said Abhishek Gupta, Circles.Life’s co-founder and director.
Currently, Singtel offers unlimited data for an extra $39.90 a month for three of its 24-contract plans while M1 comes with two options: a SIM-only plan for $98 a month, and a 24-month contract plan for $118 a month.
Virtual telco Zero1 offers a no-contract plan with unlimited data at $29.99 per month, with the first 3GB at full network speed and the rest at a capped speed, according to its website. Likewise, the speeds for Circles.Life’s unlimited data plan will be managed after the first 100GB, as part of its fair use policy.
StarHub offers SIM-only and 24-month contract plans – ranging from $24 to $238 per month – that come with unlimited data during the weekends.
Circles.Life also unveiled WhatsApp Passport, a service that entitles users to unlimited data usage for WhatsApp messaging while roaming with partner networks in over 18 countries – including the USA, India and UK – which costs from $1 per day.
Customers can also opt for unlimited local outgoing calls by adding $16 per month to their current plans.
They need to sign up for a $28 no-contract base plan – which comes with 6GB of data – before they can activate the new services via the Circles.Life app.
While both unlimited data and WhatsApp Passport services can be activated at any time of the day, the counter resets once it reaches 12am the next day.
Launched in June 2016 as Singapore’s first virtual telco, Circle.Life leases mobile network capacity from M1, while competitors Zero Mobile and Zero1 lease from Singtel.
The company – set to expand operations to Indonesia by the second half of this year – is on track to meet its three to five per cent market share goal in Singapore, “two years ahead of target”, said Abhishek, who declined to reveal the telco’s number of subscribers.