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How a 'Directory Heaven’ cartoon lifted Yell's market position

How a 'Directory Heaven’ cartoon lifted Yell's market position

By UTalkMarketing Editor, Clark Turner. 

Directory Enquiries. Not the sexiest of service sectors, admittedly. But an important none the less, helping out consumers when caught on the hop in their time of need.

Think back before 2003 and marketing and advertising for Yellow Pages hardly springs to mind apart from, say JR Hartley and his search for that Fly Fishing book back in 1991.

But as a sole supplier there was little need for 192 to promote itself. In 2003 however, that all changed with deregulation.

All of a sudden telephone enquires got sexy with the launch of a number of new services  and innovative brand building marketing campaigns matched by a need to provide good service against the competition.

The good call centre service proposition has been at the crux of Yell’s offering. Recently it won the ‘Best UK Service’ award for the fourth time in the International Directory Assistance Awards.

The 118 247 brand also picked up ‘Best Marketing Campaign’ and ‘Customer Service Agent of the Year’ in the same awards. So these guys obviously know their business and their market.

“The aim of regulation was to increase competition but the market today is still dominated by a small number of players,” Director of New Media Product Marketing for Yell, Matthew Bottomley, told UTalkMarketing.

“118118 did a major launch for their brand, taking the market by storm and still have the biggest share. But since that period there’s been gradual decline of 118 services with the rise of the net as a means to find phone numbers.”

As a consequence brands have done other things to expand their offering such as 118118’s ‘Ask us anything.

The market is dictated by perceived cost and value with messages driven home to consumers by marketing.

Companies are faced with the challenge of balancing the huge cost of handling calls and maintaining awareness against offering a competitively priced service.

Last year Yell was faced with a problem. It was offering an excellent service but competitors were still receiving more calls.

“Research showed the 118 24-7 number was not that memorable compared to 118 118 and 118 500. Playing on 24-7 led to the rhyming ‘Directory Heaven’,” Bottomley revealed.

“Of all the products we offer, our call centre service was still only number three in the market, so we needed to make heroes of the teams. I assessed our strengths – service and brand heritage – and then did a competitive analysis.”

He added, “I identified that there was some dissatisfaction with our competitors and users might be prepared to swap loyalty to us.

118118 had remained unchallenged for a number of years and Bottomley thought that it might be the right time for 118247, but with a different marketing approach.

For Yell’s marketing agency, Rapier, the solution was a cartoon character called Magical Trevor with a catchy song that already had an established profile and following on YouTube.

“This enabled us to talk about ourselves in a fresh way. Magical Trevor was already an online experience but it set us in a new space” added Bottomley.

The buy in and take up of the resulting ad campaign, ‘118247 Directory Heaven’, was almost instantaneous.

In its first weeks it generated an uplift in calls of around 70 per cent.

It was important to get the catchy song in consumers’ heads, so TV and radio was used instead of press and outdoor. Online, social media came into its own in building the campaign.

Magic Trevor fans picked up on the character’s involvement in the ad immediately. Facebook fan pages sprung up while call centre workers created their own UGC versions of the ad and the song became a favourite in school playgrounds.

“We just put it out there to see what would happen,” Bottomley added.

“It was the first time something like this had happened for Yell and it was great to see the engagement. But we realised it was important not to push or be too heavy handed as a brand.”

The campaign saw a Yell awareness upflift of 100 per cent for users and considerers according to tracking figures and narrowed the gap considerably on 118118. There was a huge increase particularly in young traditionally hard to reach users.

“118118 now have cartoon characters too and that’s incredibly flattering for us,” Bottomley said.

Plans for a new phase of the campaign are now in the pipeline as well as promoting a Yell app.

“It’s about providing what’s best for consumers in their own particular situation wherever they are,” he added. “We’re in an interesting and strong position.”

See the ‘118 247 Directory Heaven’ ad below.

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