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Free

Free

Company: Iliad SA

Brand value: US$2,880 million

Headquarter city: Paris

Industry: Telecom Providers

Year formed: 1999

Free is a strong challenger brand in the telecommunications sector, which burst on to the scene in 1999 with internet services via its famous Free Box, but really started shaking things up in 2012 when it launched mobile phone services. The brand entered the market with highly competitive rates, leading other providers to review their packages and launch lower-cost networks. Free now has more than 18 million subscribers. Brand communications are almost entirely focused on price, with the ease of signing up, the strength of the 4G network and free roaming in 35 countries also feature, along with its 24-hour customer service lines. In mid-2017, Free launched services in the French territory of La Réunion. The brand’s tagline is “Merci Free” or “Thank you, Free”, often using humor in its ads across TV and outdoor. Until 2016, subscribers could only sign up online or on the phone, but Free launched its first physical store in Paris last year and has since opened 65 others; it has plans to expand to 100. Free is working in partnership with Canal+ to provide TV content to subscribers, and has run a joint promotion with online retailer Ventes-Privées on a 99 cent-per-month subscription. Free is part of telecom company Iliad, which is majority-owned by Xavier Niel and is listed on Euronext.