CAMPAIGN-I: Spotlight on: Mobile Advertising - Will Bridget Jones spearhead a mobile advertising revival? WAP was crap, but Bridget Jones might rescue ads on mobiles, Alasdair Reid says

More than a few industry observers say the most stupid piece of

marketing communications in the history of cyberspace was last year's BT

Cellnet 'surf the internet' campaign.

'There's a company with its finger on the pulse,' one source


'It assumed that people wanted to do the same on wireless as they do on

the internet. I mean, why, exactly? Did they actually ask anyone what

they wanted? And then, having raised the issue, of course, they failed

to deliver.'

At the time, the hype bubble was ripe for popping and people were

already toying with mischievous slogans involving ingen-ious

combinations of the words 'WAP' and 'crap'. It heralded a bleak period

for those who believed in the future of mobile advertising.

The line taken by many advertisers and agencies was that this sort of

thing should be put on to a back burner until credible third generation

mobile technologies had established a decent penetration in the


Mobile, ironically, was the medium going nowhere. Or at least that's

what people thought. It seems that mobile has got its skates on again -

and for this it has to thank a certain Ms Bridget Jones, the neurotic's

neurotic whose British film premiered last week.

To coincide with the said premiere, the wireless entertainment

specialist Riot Entertainment has signed a partnership with Helen

Fielding, author of the Bridget Jones experience, to develop SMS content

for mobile phones.

Users will receive daily diary updates in the inimitable Jones style and

the commercial benefits will extend far beyond the marketing of the


The target audience of this campaign will obviously be Bridget Jones

fans - according to Riot-E, that's 'late 20- to early 30-year-old women

and curious men'.

Just how curious are these men, exactly?

Anyway, Riot-E believes that 80 per cent of this audience are likely to

be keen mobile users. And the diary style seems to fit not just the

mindset of users but the constraints of the medium.

It's an initiative that's exciting many. According to Lars Becker, the

chief executive of Flytxt, the mobile marketing company, the mobile

renaissance has already begun. It started, he argues, when people

realised they had to make the best of what they had, rather than

fantasise about what might be. He comments: 'We focus on SMS - something

that consumers use and like.

It reaches a mass audience. And, yes, you can argue that by its very

nature it's a limited medium, but you just have to accept that if you

want to get a message across you have to do it in 160 characters. That's

the essence of mobile - it has to be relevant and hit the spot.'

Pete Robins, the director of media at Beyond Interactive, would agree

with much of that. He says: 'The business is always making excuses about

the technology not being right. But even when a new technology does

appear we rediscover the fact that, when it comes down to it, it's about

quality of ideas. I like the Bridget Jones idea. It's perfect for that

audience because they all have mobile phones which they use for text


They're almost in Bridget Jones mode and if you can build on that, then

it could be powerful.'

But are many clients currently reassessing mobile? Paul Longhurst, the

managing director of Quantum New Media, says that it's on the radar -

but still at a pretty experimental stage. He states: 'There is often a

gimmicky side to this. With text messaging you have to be absolutely

sure that it isn't deemed to be intrusive. You have to give them

something they want and if that also carries branding, then great. It

will be very interesting to see if this Bridget Jones can create a cult

effect - though I suspect that to achieve that, they need to underpin it

with public relations and other media.'

Longhurst argues that mobile is still of most interest to advertisers

targeting the 13- to 18-year-old age group - the heaviest users of text

services. But if you believe some viewpoints, that perception of mobile

may be changing. The Bridget Jones target audience is older, after


Becker concludes: 'When we talk to agencies about SMS, the common

response is 'that's what my kids are using'. But actually, usage is

migrating upwards through the age range.'

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).