Brian Walden, television’s grand inquisitor famous for his gruelling
grillings of leading politicians, is the anchorman in an Abbott Mead
Vickers BBDO campaign to make BT more attractive to businessmen.
The three 40-second films, which are Abbott Mead’s first work in the
tactical BT business campaign, break nationally on Sunday.
They feature Walden reporting from Blackpool, the White Cliffs of Dover
and from outside the Houses of Parliament as part of an effort to sweep
away what BT claims are huge misconceptions among business customers
about the price of calls.
Walden appeared in some rough films with which Abbott Mead won the pitch
for the business last autumn. BT marketing chiefs agreed to sign him
after studying research results.
Sholto Douglas-Home, BT’s advertising manager, said: ‘Walden works well
because of his high profile and because he is recognised as a thoroughly
professional and incisive interviewer. He’s absolutely right for talking
to the business market.’
The commercials were written by Tom Jenkins, art directed by Stuart
Baker and directed by Justin Cartwright, best known for his TV
Walden, who is contracted to BT for a year, insisted this week that his
first venture into advertising had not compromised his journalistic
integrity. He also declined to say how much he was paid for the
commercials but said he would be happy to do more if asked.
‘AT&T is prepared to join battle with BT in Britain and one of the main
battlegrounds will be the business market,’ he said.
‘You can call me old-fashioned but I’m proud of the fact that the B in
BT stands for ‘British’.’
The commercials show Walden in conversation with business people about
the cost of telephone calls and putting the record straight when his
interviewees exaggerate their cost.
‘I never believed the campaign would compromise me,’ Walden added. ‘In
fact, it’s been intellectually intriguing because business people can
overestimate the cost of BT calls by as much as 800 per cent.’