CAMPAIGN DIRECT: CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR - CABLE & WIRELESS. It started with questionnaires, splashed in yellow all over the nationals and used intimate press and TV work. Overnight, C&W became a household name

This year’s winner is unlikely to pick up any creative gongs, making it an unexpected choice, perhaps. But Cable & Wireless Communications’ launch campaign could not be ignored. Its goal of achieving intimacy with its customers, despite its sheer size and following a complex merger, made it the clear winner.

This year’s winner is unlikely to pick up any creative gongs,

making it an unexpected choice, perhaps. But Cable & Wireless

Communications’ launch campaign could not be ignored. Its goal of

achieving intimacy with its customers, despite its sheer size and

following a complex merger, made it the clear winner.

The fact that the creative work happens to be quite good simply makes

the win easier to justify.

C&W was born out of the merger of four companies: Mercury

Communications, Bell Cablemedia, Nynex and Videotron. The brief was to

create the first customer-oriented telecoms company, showing a human,

but credible, face.

The campaign had two phases, both handled by Rapier Stead & Bowden - now

known as Rapier. The launch phase targeted the City, in preparation for

its debut on the stock market, and featured pictures of eyes and ears,

accompanied by the line ’they work better together’.

The consumer launch marked the first time a client in a service industry

had begun a campaign by trying to build relationships with its

customers. C&W managed to leap into popular consciousness, claiming the

colour yellow for itself and eliciting huge response to its

arms-wide-open questionnaire.

The public has traditionally been unreceptive to the concept of cable,

and previous marketing attempts have fallen flat. Rapier knew it needed

to start from first principles: ask the punters what they want. Rather

than a huge recruitment drive, the campaign targeted existing customers

of the four component companies, who were sent a questionnaire -

responses for which helped shape the campaign. Of the more than one

million surveys sent out, 300,000 were returned - more than 23 per cent

of those polled, an impressive improvement on the average 5 to 10 per

cent for such campaigns.

Rapier had only eight weeks before the launch date to get it all


A Goliath feat of creative thinking, media planning (by Michaelides &

Bednash) and buying (by the Media Business) followed and, on 15

September 1997, C&W launched, occupying every single colour space in the

national broadsheets, filling TV ad breaks and unveiling multiple poster


The TV work positioned the company and set the tone, posters supported

the survey by emphasising how C&W consults with its customers, and the

press work focused on services available now and in the future.

C&W behaved like a media content provider; acting as TV channels and

newspapers do in reaching their audience. In each ad break, two

five-second commercials acted as idents and preceded the main ’feature’,

a 40-second ad. The press work covered things that mattered to the

readers - all aimed at creating intimacy between C&W and its existing

and potential customers.

The TV campaign was placed in the top 25 per cent of all campaigns that

Millward Brown had ever tracked in recall terms. Spontaneous awareness

reached more than 60 per cent from a standing start. C&W’s performance

had exceeded the combined performance of its component companies the

previous year.

However, it would be too generous to talk of the success of the campaign

without mentioning the problems surrounding its inception. There were

unproven accusations that the pitch was less than fair, and internal

political shenanigans, including confusion as to who was in charge. It

was eventually to be Ruth Blakemore, who went on to quit sensationally,

only weeks before the launch. HHCL & Partners was originally given the

job by Blakemore’s short-lived predecessor, Simon Esberger, which she

overrode by calling a pitch that included HHCL, Bartle Bogle Hegarty,

Saatchi & Saatchi and the wildcard, Rapier. The rest, of course, is


Honourable mentions also go to direct campaigns for the Goldfish card,

Siemens, Aids Awareness and Royal Mail. Siemens, which FCA! picked up at

the end of 1996, put a whole new medium into the mix: the London


A hundred taxi drivers were trained to weave Siemens product information

into their usual spiel, gaining huge PR mileage. At the same time, a

punchy comparative advertising campaign positioned the brand against

established competitors.

FCA! also came up with a spot-on medium for Lust 4 Life, the Aids

awareness charity, mimicking prostitute phone cards and posting them in

telephone boxes in central London.

The Goldfish card launch through DP&A and TBWA Simons Palmer also earns

a mention by dint of the fistfuls of awards it got from the DMA. Harsh

perhaps, but many felt that this campaign was more worthy of a technical

award for its data strategy than a creative gong, the mailings

representing ’a TV ad on an envelope’ rather than a fresh idea.

Finally, to OgilvyOne’s clever campaign for a Royal Mail product,

Freepost Name, a one-line address service which works as a response


The agency’s task was to generate leads among marketing, advertising and

product managers of TV advertisers and their agencies. The top 30

agencies and top 100 broadcast advertisers were sent mailings,

incorporating film-viewers for the creatives and mailbags for the


The film-viewers contained one of the ads of each agency, with Freepost

Name superimposed to demonstrate that it would not clutter their work

but make it more effective. Personalised beer mats were also delivered

to industry watering holes. The initial result was the enrolment of 150

Freepost Name licence holders. The DMA judges called this clever

campaign ’personalisation taken to the ultimate’.

Last year’s winner: the Army.

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