Mercury Communications’ bid to re-establish itself in the business
telecommunications market kicks off this week with a high-profile pounds
2.5 million cartoon press campaign called ‘the World of Oliver and
It is Mercury’s first work since it withdrew the Harry Enfield ‘Mr
Grayson’ campaign in 1994 (Campaign, 9 December 1994). The move follows
a shake-up at Mercury, which has refocused the company as a service
provider to businesses.
Scripted by Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury’s creative partner, Steve
Henry, and created by the Guardian cartoonist, Steven Appleby, the
numbered executions depict typical scenes of office life.
They feature characters such as Oliver - a thirtysomething everyman with
a faltering grasp of technology, and the Boss - a middle-aged golfing
fanatic with an appalling taste in ties. The character called Claire is
a baby who just floats around the office. It is left to the reader to
decide whether she is Oliver’s child or his alter ego.
Each cartoon centres on a particular communications or technology
problem, such as the struggle to transfer phone calls, being placed on
endless hold and wrestling with the hot drinks machine.
George Michaelides, a partner at Mercury’s media strategist, Michaelides
and Bednash, described the ongoing campaign as ‘not classic advertising,
more a narrative, like editorial’.
A teaser campaign will begin in national newspapers this week, and
Mercury has booked every ad space in the business section of the Sunday
Times on 11 February.
There will be ongoing, unbranded teasers in papers directing readers to
the spots. The media schedule will later broaden to include business,
computer titles and regional daily papers. Media buying is through the
Simon Esberger, Mercury’s marketing director, explained the rationale
behind the campaign: ‘The idea is to re-establish Mercury in people’s
minds as a viable alternative to other telecommunications companies.’
Esberger said the press campaign will be expanded to posters and
television later this year.