Address: 500 The Campus, Maylands Avenue, Hemel Hempstead, Herts HP2
Date of birth: September 1998
Marital status: Freeserve’s parent, Dixons, sold 20 per cent of the
company last July, with the share price peaking at 925p. But now, with the
price down to 135p, Dixons’ baby is attracting silver-tongued suitors.
Germany’s biggest ISP, T-Online, has already expressed its interest.
Background: Dixons took the market by storm when it introduced its free
internet service provider in late 1998. Freeserve torpedoed other ISPs,
which charged monthly subscriptions of pounds 10 or more, by offering
unlimited web access at local phone rates.
In just six months, Freeserve signed up one million users. Analysts
credited it with kick-starting UK internet usage, especially among
Freeserve started a now-familiar trend in July 1999 when it staged an
over-hyped and, ultimately, over-priced float on the stock market. The IPO
valued the business at a massive pounds 9 billion and earlier this year it
made its debut on the FTSE 100.
Now, with its value shrunk to pounds 4 billion, Freeserve is operating in
a much tougher market. It was trumped by NTL and Alta Vista, which shook
the sector up again by announcing unmetered internet calls. It is still
the UK’s biggest ISP - with 1.9 million members - but it has a fight on
its hands to stay on top.
A new TV ad campaign and a slicker brand identity are spearheading the
biggest revamp of the brand since its launch.
Brand managers: Nia Tudno-Jones is brand manager and Neil Sansom is
Contact number for Freeserve 01442-353000
Media agency: Walker Media inherited Freeserve from its Dixons account.
Nick Andrews is the account manager, while Phil Georgiadis and Steve
Anderson look after it at board level.
Contact number for Walker Media 020 -7447 7500
Annual media spend: Between April 1999 and March 2000, Freeserve spent
pounds 12 million (AC Nielsen MMS). This figure is set to rise as a result
of a pounds 7 million television campaign.
Media used: Most of Freeserve’s advertising has focused on press and
outdoor (60 per cent and 21 per cent of spend respectively). But the
company is making heavy use of television for the first time with its
’freedom’ campaign by M&C Saatchi .
The TV commercials, which focus on life and liberation, are running in all
ITV regions, as well as on Channel 4, Channel 5 and satellite. They are
backed by press and poster work.