MEDIA: STRATEGY OF THE WEEK - ORANGE. Orange is planning a mass hijacking of outdoor for the summer. Glen Mutel reports

Orange's creative work has been subjected to close scrutiny this year. But, as it launches its fourth major campaign of 2003, it is the company's media strategy that is under the microscope.

The mobile phone giant's new Fair campaign has a simple premise - to seduce customers with eye-catching value offers. The creative work, produced by Mother, is clear and simple and in the "Paris - £25 return" mould used by easyJet.

But while the creative strategy is straightforward, the media strategy is anything but. For example, on the advice of Media Planning Group, Orange took out every ad space in last Friday's edition of The Times. As part of a deal with the newspaper's owner, News International, 100,000 free copies of The Times were handed out at mainline and London Underground stations as well as in Orange stores.

This activity is being supported by one of the most ambitious outdoor campaigns in recent years. Almost 7,000 96- and 48-sheet posters and 400 ad rail and Underground sites will run for the first two weeks of August.

There will then be a copy change. During the last two weeks of the month, the number of ads running will be halved.

In addition, Orange is running 13,000 posters in what MPG believes is the largest six-sheet campaign ever booked. Posterscope handled outdoor buying. This is all supported by a 40-second radio ad airing on all major FM stations.

So the chances are that unless you're blind, deaf or reclusive, by the end of the month, you'll know everything about Orange's current deals.

Of course, one medium is notable by its absence. Orange is normally a TV-friendly advertiser. So why has it shunned the medium this time around? The answer is: the summer.

"It's a myth that people are out of the country in August," the MPG board account director, James Smith, explains. "People are here, but they're outdoors. So rather than use TV, we've ensured our message reaches people while they're out and about.

"The reason we did the ads in The Times is because otherwise pedestrians may not get to see the campaign until 11 August when the six-sheets break. We wanted something that people could get their hands on.

"The way we've arranged The Times ads will make people stop and think. The ads are very clear and we've only used two sizes. The idea was to create a stir at the campaign's launch."

The Fair campaign is certainly comprehensive. But is it a little too indiscriminate for its own good? Not so, MPG says. For, while August's undertaking will be massive, the following months will see the mobile company adapting both message and media to suit more clearly defined target audiences.

"Throughout the month of August, the campaign has a broad target audience including pay-as-you-go and pay-monthly customers on competitive networks, as well as Orange's own clientele," Smith admits.

"After August, we'll being doing more niche targeting. For example, programme-led advertising on radio between 7pm and 2am will be aimed at younger pay-as-you-go customers."

Orange's advertising has received mixed coverage in 2003. The appointment of Mother was one of the marketing stories of last year. Consequently, all eyes have been on the client/agency partnership to see how it fares.

The first fruit of this union - the Muck About campaign for picture messaging - and its follow-up, Hard-Nosed Businessman, failed to set the advertising community alight.

Mother's recent Learn campaign, in which a child called Dylan and his team of trainers help customers get the most out of their phones, polarised industry opinion. It's now being replaced by Fair, but, contrary to popular belief, this is not a reflection on performance.

"The change in creative is not in reaction to anything," Smith says. "There will be a small continuation of the Learn campaign in store and on one of the Fair executions, but Dylan was always meant to be a one-hit campaign.

"We now have instead a combination of messages that, when taken altogether, show that Orange is the fairest network and demonstrate what it gives to its customers. It's good, it's full of impact and it has a highly PR-able use of media."