CLIENT OF THE WEEK: Communicator branches out - John Owen meets the man taking BT into the realm of unconventional marketing

Adrian Hosford has got big plans for us all. And they don’t all involve inflicting Philip Schofield on an unsuspecting nation.

Adrian Hosford has got big plans for us all. And they don’t all

involve inflicting Philip Schofield on an unsuspecting nation.

That’s what Hosford did over the Christmas period, but ITV’s first

prime-time, advertiser-funded programme, Now We’re Talking - to which

some 7.5 million viewers tuned in, according to unofficial estimates -

was just one small part of the TalkWorks scheme Hosford is overseeing at


The aim of this ambitious project is to encourage everyone in the UK to

communicate better. Hosford’s task is to build on the ’It’s good to

talk’ campaign via means other than traditional advertising. From this

week, it includes a weekly BT-funded section on Richard and Judy’s This


TalkWorks is a long-term scheme which includes a variety of publications

and a millennium project, in which BT visits every major UK city to chat

to people about what they want for the next century. Better

communication, by any chance?

Hosford’s own communications skills have been honed by a professional

career which began in research and moved into media and account

management. After spells at McCann-Erickson and Ketchum, he moved to the

client side with ICL and then BT, where, until TalkWorks, he ran

customer communication worldwide.

Hosford’s soft Irish tones speak of a genuine desire for the British

public to communicate more effectively. But won’t they be just a tad

cynical about being told how to do this by the biggest player in

commercial communications?

’We don’t talk specifically about telephone conversations,’ Hosford


’We aren’t trying to push the phone directly.’ As for telling people

what to do, he refutes the charge: ’The last thing we should be is


Hosford doesn’t shy away from the commercial perspective. ’It’s a market

leader tactic,’ he says. ’We’re trying to grow the overall market.’ And,

given that people in the UK talk one-third less on the phone than their

US counterparts, according to BT’s figures, there’s plenty of room for


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