CLOSE-UP: CLIENT OF THE WEEK - Barclaycard returns to safety/Paul Parmenter is relying on a tested format to sell the brand

Newcomers may be funkier or cheaper, but with a 25 per cent share of the UK credit card market and 34 years’ experience under its belt, Barclaycard still has a major advantage over its competitors.

Newcomers may be funkier or cheaper, but with a 25 per cent share

of the UK credit card market and 34 years’ experience under its belt,

Barclaycard still has a major advantage over its competitors.



And the company is pressing home this advantage with a new advertising

campaign starring the sharp-witted television personal-ity Angus

Deayton.



Paul Parmenter, the marketing director of Barclaycard, believes that the

latest campaign will take the brand to a ’new, higher level’.

Barclaycard has returned to the celebrity endorsement route after

flirting with a more generic campaign. ’We wanted the brand to be the

hero,’ Parmenter says. ’And through Angus it is witty, stylish,

confident, intelligent and appeals to everyone.’



In such a crowded market, the emphasis is also on understanding the

competition and keeping on your toes. It is not enough to have a

razor-sharp strategy.



You need to cut through at every level and Parmenter believes that

Deayton is the man to do it.



The company has used celebrity endorsements for most of the past 20

years. Dudley Moore, Alan Whicker and, most famously, Rowan Atkinson

have all been part of the changing face of Barclaycard.



And Barclaycard has had to change. Parmenter insists it is no longer the

expensive, safe option - its rates have to be at least half-way

competitive to fend off the assault from discount credit cards.



But safety is still paramount. ’Barclaycard is distinguished by trust

and reassurance,’ Parmenter says. ’A credit card is not a financial

instrument to be taken lightly. It requires thought and a relationship.

We also have a tremendous range of offers because our job is to make

sure that consumers find what they want with us.’



The first of the new executions addresses the issue of safety on the

internet. Parmenter says: ’Our role is to take away the mystery and

anxiety. Only a minority of people are prepared to shop online and our

guarantee against fraud is a powerful statement.’



Parmenter’s first campaign for Barclaycard was Atkinson’s last, in

1997.



He was responsible for putting BMP DDB through its paces and forcing the

agency to repitch for the pounds 15 million account against Bartle Bogle

Hegarty, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and WCRS in 1998.



It took a pitch to eliminate the ’Don’t put it off. Put it on

Barclaycard’ line with which the agency had replaced the Atkinson

series. Next up came ’one card, a million uses’ - a strategy that

Parmenter still supports but felt needed the added bite provided by the

Deayton spots.



’It’s a classic Barclaycard script,’ he says of the new travel-themed

commercial, in which Deayton travels with just a toothbrush, a passport

and his Barclaycard.



Parmenter is also delighted that Larry Barker, BMP’s creative director,

wrote the scripts himself and that John Lloyd, director of the original

Atkinson spots, was brought back for the campaign.



There is a sense that Parmenter enjoys the buzz of being around

well-known personalities but never any suggestion that his priority is

anything other than doing the best he can for Barclaycard.