A recent survey showed The Number 118 118's prompted awareness had risen to 82 per cent. This compares with 45 per cent and 42 per cent for its phone directory rivals BT (118 500) and Conduit (118 88 88), respectively.
The campaign by Naked and The Number was as much about timing as it was about the ubiquitous media exposure and the infectious irreverent humour of the 1970s moustachioed runners. To avoid the "land grab" hysteria of August, when a raft of brands would be competing for exposure ahead of the 192 directory switch-off, Naked decided to launch early.
Street-based communication was chosen "to engage with consumers on a human level". Underground 48-sheets combined with street posters and stickers to hint to consumers that the 118 runners would be pounding pavements all over the country.
118 vests were hung on washing lines in public places giving consumers the opportunity "to spread the word" and become comedy runners themselves.
The 118 craze that followed was then picked up by the national press, adding further momentum to the campaign.
Soon, 118 runners were everywhere. About 150 actors were hired to play the role of runners on city streets and interact with the public. Some drove ice-cream vans, some drove branded skips to collect the now redundant phone books and others infiltrated high-profile events such as Wimbledon.
"As a service brand our product is not tangible so our advertising is our shop window ... The creativity behind the media ideas has been as important as the creative vehicles (the runners) themselves. Our ambient campaign supports, and works in harmony with, our conventional media," The Number's marketing director, Alexandra Lewis, said.