DIARY: I’M ONLY A PUNTER BUT

About a month ago I received a mailing from our friendly telecoms giant, BT, offering me ’25 per cent off’. ’Gosh, how generous,’ I thought after a quick calculation.

About a month ago I received a mailing from our friendly telecoms

giant, BT, offering me ’25 per cent off’. ’Gosh, how generous,’ I

thought after a quick calculation.



Hurriedly, I opened the pack and read on. I then discovered BT would

give me 25 per cent off anything I spent over and above my previous

telephone bill. My delight turned to cynicism.



’When will people learn that clever doesn’t sell?’ I mused. I may be

unique, but I am continually trying to cut my telephone bill (often

unsuccessfully). ’Still, it’s probably only a test mailing, they won’t

have wasted too much money,’ I thought.



Two weeks later, I was telephoned by a woman with a Scottish accent who

worked for BT. We scrolled through the list of pre-programmed questions

together. Eventually she asked what I thought about the 25 per cent off

offer. I replied that I thought it was a bit of a con. She said a lot of

other people thought the same.



’Still, it’s probably only a test, they won’t have wasted too much

money,’ I thought, and carried on with the washing-up.



Then Christmas came and I was happily watching television when on came

the advertisements. Up popped one with BT’s 25 per cent off

proposition.



’I can’t believe it. They really are wasting a lot of money,’ I thought

and reached for the word processor.



I have always been taught that the secret of good advertising is a good

proposition. There was nothing wrong in the creative executions of BT’s

latest and finest. It is just that the proposition was one of those

’clever’ ones which only serve to perpetuate the national cynicism

towards big business. Doubtless a marketing executive somewhere is

feeling very smug.



I don’t know how they can evaluate the effectiveness of such a

campaign.



I suppose there might be the odd consumer gullible enough to think BT

has done them a good deal. Comparison with last year’s figures should be

possible if they can negate the effect of any price changes.



Is it BT’s fault for employing the people who came up with a proposition

like this? Is its agency guilty of admiring the emperor’s new

clothes?



That is, assuming the client came up with the proposition in the first

place.



Not being one to criticise without suggesting something different, I

came up with a few ideas of my own. How about a smaller percentage off

your whole bill for the Christmas period? How about having an off-peak

rate for 12 days over Christmas. How about a pre-payment plan so

customers can control of how much they spend on the telephone. Or aren’t

such ideas ’clever’ enough?



Send your rants to Diary Editor, Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Road, London,

W6 7JP.



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