"The British public was desperately in need of an alternative supplier" to British Telecom, said Martin Hayward, manager of marketing services at Mercury Communications.
Mr. Hayward said Mercury has grabbed 12% of the U.K. telephone market from its bigger rival but faces increased competition as the government continues to hand out telecommunications licenses to new contenders.
Mercury's advertising through Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury has to cover everything from $3 phone cards to complex phone systems for multinational businesses. That prompted creation of one cohesive, integrated ad strategy featuring U.K. comedian Harry Enfield, Mr. Hayward said.
Another panelist, TBWA CEO Alasdair Ritchie, talked about Nissan's decision to spend $8 million in the U.K. on introductory ads for the Nissan Micra that didn't even show the car.
"When photographed the car didn't look very good-small, round cars tend to flatten out," said Mr. Ritchie, who was filling in for Nissan Sales Director Andrew Green. Instead Nissan used print ads and TV spots employing a line drawing to show the tiny Micra as cute and cuddly.
The discussion, moderated by Crain Communications Inc. Senior VP-Publishing Director Joe Cappo, took place at the monthly luncheon meeting of the U.K. chapter of the International Advertising Association.