The Number had come under fire from the former athlete David Bedford, who reported it to the Independent Television Commission for using his image without permission.
Although Ofcom ruled on appeal that The Number could continue to use the runners despite their similarities to Bedford, The Number claims the change of direction is not related to this case. It argues that the new-look campaign is simply a progression to keep the 118 1 18 idea fresh.
The brand is focusing on its service benefits following a year of awareness-building. The campaign aims to communicate the extra advantages the 118 118 service offers, including its nearest category search, cinema listings, call connection and its provision of unlimited numbers.
Breaking as a 60-second TV ad on 12 March, the new campaign turns the runners into everyday heroes. Dressed in tight, yellow jumpsuits and retaining their trademark moustaches and haircuts, they are shown as reminiscent of 70s cops.
The TV ad, which will also appear as a 40-second version and later as two 20-second spots, shows the 118 boys cruising the streets in their orange "Bond Bug" car. They rescue members of the public, such as "the woman in need of the nearest plumber" and "the dog that needs a vet".
Ambient media, planned by Naked Communications, will follow in the style of last year's campaign, getting the 118 pair interacting with the public.
It will also promote 118 badges, transfers and other 70s-style memorabilia in an attempt to create a "must-have" buzz around the campaign.
Alexandra Lewis, the marketing director of The Number, said: "The 118 runners theme definitely got 118 118 remembered best. This year, there isn't going to be the confusion caused by so many new numbers, competitors and ways of charging. This means we can focus on the new services that characterise The Number's distinct advantages for callers."
The campaign was written by Dan Fisher and art directed by Mark Nicholson.
Media buying is by OMD UK.