Richard Cook talks to the Orange marketer who isn’t afraid to fight for
You may have noticed the latest press campaign for Orange. Headlines
such as ‘Tried and Trusted’ trumpeted victory in the High Court action
brought by Vodafone with the kind of overweening self-righteousness that
might have made Richard Branson blanch (Campaign, last week).
But then this company is no shrinking violet.
It was a claim made in a previous campaign that Orange users saved
pounds 20 every month against Vodafone that had provoked the legal
tussle in the first place.
Orange’s strident marketing director, Lisa Gernon, who was responsible
for the pounds 1 million celebratory campaign, has steered the brand’s
marketing since its March 1994 launch. Doesn’t she think the latest work
a little too triumphal?
‘I think there was a principle being fought here, and it was important
not to back off. Utilising the court case was an obvious hook to get our
message across that there are a lot of hidden costs in our industry and
they are not in the public interest.’
Gernon can certainly wax evangelical about Orange, as doubtless she once
could on behalf of Vodafone, the company she worked for before joining
Orange, or indeed for Cellnet, the largest mobile phone operator and
another former employer.
When she joined Orange in 1994, the name and logo were already in place,
but she shepherded WCRS’s award-winning Vietnam campaign on to the
screen and ensured that Orange neatly side-stepped the marketing
problems of its closest rival, Mercury. The elegiac shots of old
Vietnamese men and women on bicycles were then replaced by hard-edged
comparative advertising and, in turn, by the bitterness of the court
Whatever, Gernon has no plans to rein back her aggressive marketing -
Orange is, after all, the fastest growing of the four mobile phone
networks and her chief rivals are somewhat bloodied after the court
case. They will be back, but Gernon, who likes nothing better than a
little gentle gardening at home in Hertfordshire, won’t be pulling any