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Chicago agency Mobium Corp. is taking up the challenge of helping the Yellow Pages industry shed its image as the Rodney Dangerfield of the marketing mix.

The Yellow Pages Publishers Association and the Association of Directory Marketing tapped Mobium for a new $1 million, three-year advertising and direct marketing effort, targeting decision-makers for consumer and business-to-business companies.

"Mobium had the right mix of budget strategy and what I call irreverent creativity," said Harvey Winn, director of communications at YPPA, Troy, Mich. "It was a tough choice."

For years, the YPPA and direct marketers group have been trying to entice national advertisers to the Yellow Pages through their "Marketing the Medium" program. A major thrust of that campaign has been to tout return on investment from Yellow Pages advertising. Mr. Winn cited one automotive client who made back its investment for a one-year trial in three months.

Now, Mobium joins that effort.

"Our real task is to get them to think of Yellow Pages in a totally different way," said Robert J. Goranson, account director at Mobium. The return on investment emphasis "is going to play a big role in that."

Direct mail will comprise the bulk of the awareness campaign, with most of the first year's budget going toward creating materials. A mailing list has been compiled for what Mr. Winn called "750 individual direct mail campaigns" expected to begin in September.

Awareness ads are scheduled to appear in trade publications such as Advertising Age during the third quarter. The ads will carry the tagline, "The Yellow Pages. It pays. We'll prove it to you." Though media buys will be fairly limited in the first year because of budget constraints, Mr. Winn expects the media schedule to increase significantly in subsequent years.

Mr. Winn is developing programs-such as training videos-internally to support the awareness ads.

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