CAMPAIGN DIRECT: PROFILE - JANET SOMERVILLE. C&W marketing matriarch pulls no punches in her search for success. Janet Somerville hopes to revitalise C&W’s brand as well as prove a point to its critics, Robert Dwek says

The Cable & Wireless Communications office in Covent Garden where Janet Somerville works is currently in a right old state. Building works have turned a straight-forward visit into a magical mystery tour. When you finally make it to reception, your eye is drawn to a series of words posted on the wall: Credible, Accessible, Inspiring, Flexible, Personal.

The Cable & Wireless Communications office in Covent Garden where

Janet Somerville works is currently in a right old state. Building works

have turned a straight-forward visit into a magical mystery tour. When

you finally make it to reception, your eye is drawn to a series of words

posted on the wall: Credible, Accessible, Inspiring, Flexible,

Personal.



Critics of C&W’s recent marketing carped about the telecoms firm being

anything but the above, failing to build on its award-winning launch

campaign which invited the public to tell C&W what they wanted from it.

This bold move was designed to make a virtue out of the four-way merger

of Videotron, Mercury, Bell Cablemedia and Nynex to form C&W.



The response rate was 23 per cent, but after this storming start a

pressing question emerged: what next? Janet Somerville, C&W’s consumer

marketing director, says there has been no loss of momentum, stressing

the ’seamless’ nature of subsequent campaigns which have developed the

creative strategy pioneered by Rapier.



Some of the criticism thrown at C&W focuses on the high-profile

resignation of two successive marketing directors, Ruth Blakemore and

Helen Burt.



Apparently, they had problems orchestrating the very disparate firms

that had been thrown together under the same roof. Instead of directly

replacing the directors, the task of keeping all the divisions moving in

the same direction has gone to Somerville and John Aarons, the brand

director.



Somerville believes she has the right perspective to drive C&W’s

integrated strategy, as her background consisted of above- and

below-the-line positions.



Beginning her marketing career at BT, she then moved into geodemographic

targeting as director of CACI’s database division. Next came a stint at

O&M Data Consult from where, eight years ago, she joined Mercury

Communications.



It was here that Somerville’s above-the-line experience increased

through positions that included head of strategy and head of consumer

marketing.



But her direct marketing side seems strongest when she talks about the

importance of analysing campaigns and ensuring accountability. ’You

should judge a strategy by its results,’ is her personal credo. When

asked for a career highlight, she offers the recent campaign that saw

two million rubber duck-shaped door drops.



A mammoth 2,000 calls a day flooded the C&W response lines at the

campaign’s peak. But Somerville was perhaps just as thrilled when the

Sunday Times pictured the duck in a piece about one of the designers

from the BBC’s Changing Rooms series.



Somerville is also proud of the ’promise’ campaign, plastered over the

nation’s TV screens, newspapers and billboards for the past few

months.



She has been in talks with her direct marketing agency, Grey Integrated,

to see how cost-per-response can be reduced. ’We’ve maintained and

increased brand awareness by spending 60 per cent of last year’s budget,

and have achieved 100 per cent more sales. The cost of DRTV has come

down from pounds 11 per response to pounds 5.’



Somerville considers herself to be a pioneer in her determination to use

direct marketing and response campaigns to build the fledgling C&W

brand, while also demanding immediate sales results. ’You can achieve

both together. It just requires better planning and closer

monitoring.’



Sounds simple, but doesn’t it make life hell for her agencies? She

doesn’t look like a nightmare client on first impression. Although she

recalls taking very little time off work when pregnant with her now

one-year-old son, she claims not to have a masterplan when it comes to

her career.



’Janet can be a difficult person to work with because she calls a spade

a spade, but she is honest and knows her stuff,’ says Fiona

Godwin-Brown, director of responsive marketing at Grey Integrated. ’The

really innovative and unusual thing about her as a client is that she

empowers the agency by giving very clear briefs and setting targets that

really stretch you.’



Jonathan Stead, the chief executive of Rapier, C&W’s above-the-line

agency, describes Janet as ’very focused, very results-oriented, but

very vocally supportive of the brand. It’s definitely unusual to find

someone who’s able to balance results with brand values.’



Somerville’s talent in this respect will be sorely tested as she tries

to move future marketing further down the road of customer acquisition

rather than retention, which was the initial priority.



She sounds confident but the critics are unlikely to be convinced until

the haunting ghosts of former C&W marketing directors have been

thoroughly exorcised.



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