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The End for Orange Wednesdays

Tim Maytom

orange wednesdaysEE is to end its long-running two-for-one cinema tickets deal next year, claiming that customer viewing habits no longer support the offer.

The deal was first offered by Orange 10 years ago, and has proved highly successful in terms of both brand awareness and customer retention for the mobile network.

When Orange and T-Mobile merged in 2010 to form EE, the newly formed company continued to offer the promotion, which enabled mobile and broadband customers to get two cinema tickets for the price of one every Wednesday. Since the promotion's inception, Wednesday has changed from one of the slowest days for cinema attendance (due to new films being released on Thursday and Friday) to the third most popular, though it would appear that this is on the wane, reading between the lines of EE's decision.

Since the promotion's inception, Wednesday has changed from one of the slowest days for cinema attendance (due to new films being released on Thursday and Friday) to the third most popular.

The offer will cease on 25 February next year, when the company will also be ending its two-for-one Wednesday promotion with Pizza Express restaurants. EE plans to replace the deal with a new entertainment offer, although the details of this have not been announced yet.

"Orange Wednesdays launched over a decade ago and at its peak was a massive success and an iconic promotion," said a spokesperson for EE. "After 10 great years our brand has changed and our customers' viewing habits have also evolved so it's time to move on."

Industry insiders are suggesting the deal's popularity means it may be taken up by a different company, with comparison site Compare the Market floated as a possible new sponsor.

David Murphy writes:
The demise of Orange Wednesdays is a sad day for anyone who has been following or involved in the mobile marketing scene since its early days.

Originally created for Orange by Flytxt in 2004, the 2-for-1 cinema offer is the world’s longest-running and probably best-known mobile marketing campaign, whose success and popularity with consumers has seen it copied by other operators in other countries, albeit under a different name.

When it celebrated its 5th birthday in 2009, Orange revealed that the 2-for-1 cinema offer had been redeemed 14m times by Orange customers, saving them more than £30m, and resulting in up to 3m additional annual visits to UK cinemas, with up to 300,000 people going on an Orange Wednesday cinema outing on any given week. A long way from the 12,039 Orange customers who took up the offer when it first launched 10 years ago to watch blockbusters such as Gothika and Starsky and Hutch. (We're awaiting updated figures on current levels of uptake from the EE press office.)

EE says the offer is being canned due to an evolution in its customers’ viewing habits, but one regular user we spoke to this afternoon - OK, full disclosure, it was my wife Jo - disputed this. She told us: “Rubbish. Whenever we go on a Wednesday it’s always packed.”

Whatever the real reason behind its withdrawal, it’s a sad day, and it will be interesting to see what effect it has on Orange’s churn rates. As another Orange Wednesdays user in the office told us this afternoon, “There goes my main reason for sticking with EE”.

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