IPA Effectiveness Awards 2004: Gold Award - The Number 118 118

THE NUMBER 118 118

Campaign: Launch

Client: The Number 118 118

Agencies: WCRS, Naked Communications

Principal authors: Cameron Saunders, WCRS; Yusuf Chuku, Naked


Media used: TV, interactive, direct marketing, viral, print, PR, cinema,

press, outdoor, radio, ambient


Who'd have thought that an unknown from the deathly dull world of directory enquiries could become one of the UK's most recognised and best-loved brands? And all in a matter of months.

The launch of The Number 118 118, which followed the telecom watchdog Oftel's decision to deregulate the directory-enquiries market in 2002, became a media event in its own right. The brand's iconic 70s runners and their catchphrase "Got your number!" have slipped into the public consciousness.

The early launch, while BT's 192 service was still operational, was key, as it ensured a free run of media space.

Another key tactic was spending £2 million of the advertising budget on buying the 118 118 number sequence, said to be the most memorable on offer.

The Number, born of the US directory company InfoNXX, now has 44 per cent of the directory-enquiries market. Next, with 34 per cent, is BT, which had the luxury of a 40-year relationship with the British public.

The Number is a straightforward case for advertising effectiveness. On an investment of £13.5 million, the campaign's return on investment is £45.4 million.

The judges' view

This case describes how 118 118 successfully claimed ownership of the directory-enquiries market before switch-off had even occurred.

It was a brave decision to advertise several months ahead of switch-off but one that paid off, since by then the 118 118 runners had already clocked up 17 million calls. Subsequently, 118 118 dominated the deregulated market while charging people a premium.

This highly original communication idea was transformed into a cult-like phenomenon by the application of equally inventive media thinking.

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