A new pounds 20 million-plus advertising account went up for grabs
this week as a consortium representing the telecoms industry and Oftel,
the industry watchdog, invited four agencies to compete for the task of
preparing the country for another overhaul of the national telephone
codes in April 2000.
Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper, J. Walter Thompson, Bates Dorland and Duckworth
Finn Grubb Waters, working with Motive as its media partner, will
present ideas for the full-service business on 31 October. The pitch has
been organised by a committee jointly owned by Oftel and the operators,
which include major players such as BT, Ionica and Cable & Wireless.
Lisl MacDonald, Ionica’s head of marketing and one of the key members of
the committee, said: ’We are all working together as a team. Colleagues
in the industry and Oftel are determined that customers come first and
fully understand when and what changes will be made.’
To ensure fairness in the pitch, well-connected agencies such as Abbott
Mead Vickers BBDO - which handles BT’s ads - were not considered for the
The winning agency is expected to start delivering ads by the beginning
of next year. The campaign will then run in phases over the next two
years, reaching a crescendo in the final weeks before the change.
Eight million phone users will be affected by the code changes. London’s
0171 code, for example, will be replaced by 0207. The changes will also
affect Portsmouth, Southampton, Cardiff and Northern Ireland.
The move is designed to provide enough codes to last well into the next
millennium. However, when the overhaul was announced in January, it
triggered protests over cost and inconvenience, particularly to
business. The Labour party called for a select committee inquiry into
what it described as a ’shambles’.
The last number changes took place in April 1995 when all area codes in
the UK inserted an extra 1 after the initial 0, and Leeds, Sheffield,
Nottingham, Leicester and Bristol received entirely new codes. Handled
by AMV, the campaign used the line ’one to remember’ and drew on a
series of memorable moments from popular culture.