NEWS: Mercury shifts tack with cartoon ads

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 Claire’.

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

Claire’.



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

Media Business.



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.



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