Media: Strategy of the week - BT targets big business in £26m bid to be IT player

BT wants to position itself as a top provider of networking solutions, Lucy Aitken writes. BT is about to spend a massive £26 million on a repositioning and the target market is hotshot business leaders with multimillion-pound contracts to hand out, rather than penny-pinching consumers who hate to dial outside their "friends and family" offer.

The advertising campaign shows a computer-generated cityscape representing the digital networked economy. The creative is by St Luke's.

Alessandro Andolina, a senior planner at St Luke's, says a key characteristic of the campaign is its disruptive nature. "It's about shifting the perception away from BT being 'just a telco' into a sophisticated IT provider."

Having recently won IT and networking services contracts for Unilever and the NHS, BT initially wants the campaign to establish its credentials in this field.

Specific capabilities will follow in the second phase in early 2005.

But the first challenge is to grab attention, which is no mean feat when the target is executives.

PHD, BT's media planning agency, conducted qualitative research among the business audience and discovered that it is a tough brief. Lindsay Weedon, PHD's head of media, says: "Chief executives of major multinational companies - our primary target audience - are sceptical of advertising, and time-poor."

So, The Allmond Partnership's TV buying had to be clever. The 60-second spot's first airing was on 3 September during Green Wing on Channel 4, and further spots will appear during Parkinson, ITV News, The South Bank Show and coverage of the Ryder Cup.

The internet is a key component and BT is the first advertiser in the UK to use a new online format. An ELU - enterprise launch unit - is a full-page banner which disappears after four seconds. Its charm is that it appears only once, so users aren't bugged by it every time they return to silicon.com and zdnet.com. Agency.com designed the creative, while i-level was responsible for the online media.

International business travellers are a core target, so Heathrow, Schiphol, Munich, Madrid and Frankfurt airports will carry special builds and light boxes, while cover-wrapped copies of Business Week and The Economist are being distributed in lounges. Outdoor buying is through Outdoor Connection while Starcom Group handles press buying.

Grant Millar, BT's head of campaign planning and media, says: "It's that kind of personalised approach we're taking at launch. People have preconceptions about BT, so it's important for us to get our message across at an airport, where they can't miss it."

It is also hard to avoid the campaign at Bank Underground station, where a entire platform is dominated by the campaign. As Millar says: "Commuters coming into Bank will almost feel like they're in the ad." The cityscape also graces a mega-site at Clapham Junction.

Starcom, which planned and bought global TV, press and outdoor, chose business media such as The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and Newsweek. And commercials on Discovery, National Geographic and Eurosport will catch the decision-makers when they are relaxing.

This is BT's biggest business-to-business push to date, so communicating the repositioning internally was also a part of the strategy, according to Tim Evans, BT's group marketing and brand director. He says: "When people think about media strategy, they often forget about their internal audiences but for us it is very important."

Client: BT

Media: TV, press, online, outdoor

Agencies: St Luke's, PHD, The Allmond Partnership, Outdoor Connection,

Starcom Group, i-level, Agency.com

Media idea: Grab the attention of senior executives through targeted

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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).