This year’s winner is unlikely to pick up any creative gongs,
making it an unexpected choice, perhaps. But Cable & Wireless
Communications’ launch campaign could not be ignored. Its goal of
achieving intimacy with its customers, despite its sheer size and
following a complex merger, made it the clear winner.
The fact that the creative work happens to be quite good simply makes
the win easier to justify.
C&W was born out of the merger of four companies: Mercury
Communications, Bell Cablemedia, Nynex and Videotron. The brief was to
create the first customer-oriented telecoms company, showing a human,
but credible, face.
The campaign had two phases, both handled by Rapier Stead & Bowden - now
known as Rapier. The launch phase targeted the City, in preparation for
its debut on the stock market, and featured pictures of eyes and ears,
accompanied by the line ’they work better together’.
The consumer launch marked the first time a client in a service industry
had begun a campaign by trying to build relationships with its
customers. C&W managed to leap into popular consciousness, claiming the
colour yellow for itself and eliciting huge response to its
The public has traditionally been unreceptive to the concept of cable,
and previous marketing attempts have fallen flat. Rapier knew it needed
to start from first principles: ask the punters what they want. Rather
than a huge recruitment drive, the campaign targeted existing customers
of the four component companies, who were sent a questionnaire -
responses for which helped shape the campaign. Of the more than one
million surveys sent out, 300,000 were returned - more than 23 per cent
of those polled, an impressive improvement on the average 5 to 10 per
cent for such campaigns.
Rapier had only eight weeks before the launch date to get it all
A Goliath feat of creative thinking, media planning (by Michaelides &
Bednash) and buying (by the Media Business) followed and, on 15
September 1997, C&W launched, occupying every single colour space in the
national broadsheets, filling TV ad breaks and unveiling multiple poster
The TV work positioned the company and set the tone, posters supported
the survey by emphasising how C&W consults with its customers, and the
press work focused on services available now and in the future.
C&W behaved like a media content provider; acting as TV channels and
newspapers do in reaching their audience. In each ad break, two
five-second commercials acted as idents and preceded the main ’feature’,
a 40-second ad. The press work covered things that mattered to the
readers - all aimed at creating intimacy between C&W and its existing
and potential customers.
The TV campaign was placed in the top 25 per cent of all campaigns that
Millward Brown had ever tracked in recall terms. Spontaneous awareness
reached more than 60 per cent from a standing start. C&W’s performance
had exceeded the combined performance of its component companies the
However, it would be too generous to talk of the success of the campaign
without mentioning the problems surrounding its inception. There were
unproven accusations that the pitch was less than fair, and internal
political shenanigans, including confusion as to who was in charge. It
was eventually to be Ruth Blakemore, who went on to quit sensationally,
only weeks before the launch. HHCL & Partners was originally given the
job by Blakemore’s short-lived predecessor, Simon Esberger, which she
overrode by calling a pitch that included HHCL, Bartle Bogle Hegarty,
Saatchi & Saatchi and the wildcard, Rapier. The rest, of course, is
Honourable mentions also go to direct campaigns for the Goldfish card,
Siemens, Aids Awareness and Royal Mail. Siemens, which FCA! picked up at
the end of 1996, put a whole new medium into the mix: the London
A hundred taxi drivers were trained to weave Siemens product information
into their usual spiel, gaining huge PR mileage. At the same time, a
punchy comparative advertising campaign positioned the brand against
FCA! also came up with a spot-on medium for Lust 4 Life, the Aids
awareness charity, mimicking prostitute phone cards and posting them in
telephone boxes in central London.
The Goldfish card launch through DP&A and TBWA Simons Palmer also earns
a mention by dint of the fistfuls of awards it got from the DMA. Harsh
perhaps, but many felt that this campaign was more worthy of a technical
award for its data strategy than a creative gong, the mailings
representing ’a TV ad on an envelope’ rather than a fresh idea.
Finally, to OgilvyOne’s clever campaign for a Royal Mail product,
Freepost Name, a one-line address service which works as a response
The agency’s task was to generate leads among marketing, advertising and
product managers of TV advertisers and their agencies. The top 30
agencies and top 100 broadcast advertisers were sent mailings,
incorporating film-viewers for the creatives and mailbags for the
The film-viewers contained one of the ads of each agency, with Freepost
Name superimposed to demonstrate that it would not clutter their work
but make it more effective. Personalised beer mats were also delivered
to industry watering holes. The initial result was the enrolment of 150
Freepost Name licence holders. The DMA judges called this clever
campaign ’personalisation taken to the ultimate’.
Last year’s winner: the Army.