CLOSE-UP: CLIENT OF THE WEEK; Feisty chief pulls no punches

Richard Cook talks to the Orange marketer who isn’t afraid to fight for a cause

Richard Cook talks to the Orange marketer who isn’t afraid to fight for

a cause

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