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(June 26, 2001) LONDON -- British Telecom has dropped space alien ET from its corporate advertising, opting instead for a cast of millions in a giant amphitheatre in its new flagship TV commercial entitled "Stadium."

Using the latest Hollywood film and special effects techniques, the spot, which breaks June 28, marks a new communications phase for the U.K.-based telecommunications giant. Last October, British Telecom appointed St Luke's, one of its three roster agencies, to reposition the corporate brand.

Set in a Gladiator-style stadium, the ad features a series of individuals who take turns to stand center-stage in front of a crowd of millions and pose questions. Kicking off the sequence is a young girl who asks the crowd: "What's this groove called under my nose," to which a man in a group of medical students stands up and replies: "It's called your Philtrum." Next, a fisherman is auctioning off a prize catch to the delight of fishermen and fishing aficionados in the crowd. An old man follows, asking if anyone went to his school in Tobago.

Ending with a sweeping shot of the arena, a voice over goes: "The more connections we make, the more possibilities we have," which leads into the new corporate BT endline, "More connections. More possibilities."

Running for three weeks in terrestrial and satellite TV, in both 90- and 60-second formats, the commercial, which was shot in South Africa's Cape Town, will be supported by print and online campaigns, as well as establish a platform for a subsequent consumer and business-to-business campaigns.

New PHD is handling media planning, the Allmond Partnership is responsible for TV buying and Zenith Media is overseeing press buying. No budget figures were released, but the campaign is estimated to run into "millions."

To ensure that British Telecom delivers on the campaign's promise of "more connections", the company's British Telecom Retail brand, with oversees 21 million residential and business customers, has been improving services during a nine-month-long revamped strategy, explained British Telecom Retail CEO Pierre Danon.

The company has succeeded in reducing the amount of engineering work by almost 70%, cut complaints by more than 60% and developed packages that are up to 24% cheaper than cable competitors, said Mr. Danon. -- Ali Qassim

Copyright June 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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