BT unveils biggest brand campaign in 20 years

Rebrand is accompanied by record-breaking performance in Wembley.

Epoch of belief: schoolgirl recites Dickens
Epoch of belief: schoolgirl recites Dickens

On a mission to show its commitment to making a better-connected Britain, BT has launched its biggest brand campaign in more than 20 years, "Beyond limits", featuring a TV spot, out-of-home activity and a new identity.

Created by Saatchi & Saatchi, the ad begins with a schoolgirl reciting Charles Dickens' classic opening from A Tale of Two Cities as she walks through the dreary British streets.

Set to Blinded by Your Grace, Pt 2 by Stormzy, it goes on to showcase Britain’s technological advances over the past few decades, from CCTV and Tube advancements to the emergence of broadband. 

The spot ends as the girl enters her tech-savvy classroom – a nod to BT's Barefoot programme, which trains teaches with coding and other computing skills in schools across the UK. So far, 70,000 teachers have benefited from the initiative, reaching more than two million children in total.

BT has struck its first partnership with ITV as it plans a network takeover this weekend. Idents for the channel were created by children from the Ashmount Primary School in London and Pontlliw Primary School in Swansea, who combined their coding skills to operate a futuristic robotic arm.

Meanwhile, the brand has launched a series of out-of-home executions highlighting its efforts in making Britain’s broadband safer, featuring little-known facts such as "BT answers 30 million 999 calls per year" and "We prevent 4,000 cyber attacks daily to keep your data safe", in keeping with BT's plans to stay on the pulse of a more competitive Britain.

The work was created by Antony Goldstein, William Brookwell, William Helm and Ryan Price, and directed by Max Malkin through Prettybird. Essence works on BT's media planning and buying account.

Publicis Groupe won BT's main brand advertising earlier this year – the first time an agency other than Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO has worked on advertising for BT in 23 years. AMV retained other work for the brand.

"The ‘Beyond limits’ campaign represents a real shift for BT, inside and out," Marc Allera, chief executive of BT’s consumer division, said. "Our presence and scale across the UK means that we have an opportunity and responsibility to go further than ever to connect more people and businesses across the UK, help them make the most out of the technology they have and equip them with the skills they need to shape the future.

"This campaign represents just that – a bold step into the future, helping people to break down barriers and realise their potential."

A record-breaking launch

The work was launched with a record-breaking event at Wembley Arena hosted by TV presenter Tess Daly last night (Thursday), featuring music from Jess Glynne.

During the show, students from St Joseph’s school in Islington (part of the Barefoot programme) created a choreographed performance using no fewer than 160 drones, smashing the world record for the biggest indoor drone light display.

A new ID for BT

BT has also seized its moment to refresh its brand identity – a symbol of the brand’s new direction – that will be rolled out across BT’s digital and physical presence, including the return of BT to the high street across the UK. EE shops will be co-branded BT to offer services such as broadband. 

This comes alongside BT’s Skills for Tomorrow initiative, which has provided digital skills to 10 million schoolchildren, families and businesses across the UK.

Earlier this year, BT was the subject of ridicule after revealing a "generic" brand logo similar to the one released three years earlier.

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