Bouygues promotes France's first ad-driven mobile phone service

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PARIS--Bouygues Telecom has launched France's first advertising-driven mobile phone service, allowing clients of its new Spot service to place free calls that are intermittently interrupted by short commercial messages.

Bouygues, the No. 3 mobile operator here, with more than 3.6 million clients, or a 15% market share, hopes that the new service will help it meet a year-end goal of 5 million subscribers. France Telecom's mobile phone division, Itineris, leads the sector, with a 50% market share, followed by Vivendi-owned SFR, with a 35% share.

The prime markets for Bouygues Telecom's Spot service are students and young professionals eager to reduce their mobile phone bill. These are the principal targets of a $6 million advertising campaign now being rolled out by DDB, Paris.

A series of humorous TV ads point out that not all mobile calls areimportant. The lack of urgency in the calls in the ads -- a crank phone call to a butcher or two friends looking for each other in a crowded park -- is cited as a perfect reason to opt for free, advertising-interrupted calls.

Subscribers to the Spot service will in fact have a choice betweencommercial-free or commercial-interrupted calls. Bouygues Telecom is offering Spot as a pre-paid service, selling phone cards that contain 20 minutes or one hour of calls with commercials and the same bloc ofcommercial-free time.

Free calls feature a 10-second commercial every two minutes, heard by the calling party and recipient alike.

More than a dozen advertisers, including Twix, the French Army and Yahoo!, have signed up to offer ads on the phone service. Bouygues Telecom will charge advertisers about 15 cents for a simple 10-second spot and double for an interactive message allowing Spot users to request additional information.

Bouygues Telecom marketing executives believe the service will bring in at least $5 million in advertising revenues in 2000. Advertising will be targeted at individual users, all of whom must complete a 46-point marketing questionaire before service begins.

Young & Rubicam, Paris handles advertising for Bouygues Telecom's general service.

Copyright April 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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