Agencies contest pounds 20m phone task

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.

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

business.



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.



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