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118118 ‘Creating a drama out of a crisis’

118118 ‘Creating a drama out of a crisis’

Best practice from OMD UK

After the 2003 deregulation, 118118 were market-leaders

At launch, 118118 had a strategy to be first to market, create a strong brand personality and deliver talkability in an extremely low interest category.

This approach had worked and we were number one in the marketplace. However, it had come at a cost.

Over-investment at launch meant that communication budgets would decrease in subsequent years. But the business targets wouldn’t.

We faced a tough question: how would we maintain pole-position, whilst spending much less?

‘First-mention’ drives position in the directory enquiry marketplace

We knew that to deliver call volumes, we had to go beyond ‘just awareness’. We needed to be top of mind with our core audience of ABC1 25-44 year olds.

Previously, frequency of message combined with talkability had driven this. We clearly needed to make 118118 conversational currency again.

We also knew that TV worked for us. However, we needed a cost-efficient means of maintaining presence over the year. Traditional TV activity was unaffordable across the whole period.

Finally, we needed to protect the personality that we had worked so hard to create for the brand – it was what had so far delivered us real stand-out in the marketplace.

Our eureka moment presented real drama

What if we associated 118118 with the hottest, most anticipated and talked about programming on TV, not just for a few weeks, but right through the year.

Although elusive, we knew through our in-house Snapshots research that our core audience did have some real ‘appointment to view’ programming. These included the likes of the C4 Dramas: ER and The Sopranos.

Clearly, US acquisitions were a favourite of this audience. So, we looked across the Atlantic. Through our on-going communication with OMD New York, we knew about the forthcoming phenomenon about to hit the UK – Lost.

All of a sudden a solution emerged – sponsoring the C4 Drama strand. Association with such powerful programming would ensure that not only was 118118 on the tip of everyone’s tongues, but that it was present day in, day out, across the year.

This genre also provided a perfect environment for our 118 Boys and would amplify their distinctive personalities.

We delivered the best sponsorship of 2005

Our association took the country by storm. Love it or hate it, everyone was talking about us – we scored column inches in trade and consumer press alike and Campaign made us their No.1 Sponsorship for 2005.

Bespoke SPA research demonstrated that within 6 months, we had delivered spontaneous awareness levels which were second only to the long established Cadburys’ association with Coronation Street.

Some 80% of viewers felt that the two properties’ association was appropriate – our synergy was clearly spot-on.

Most importantly, we achieved first mention recall levels of 70% with viewers of the activity. This represented a difference of 24% to non-viewers and was 65% higher than our closest competitor.

We also had an incredibly happy client. Alex Lewis, 118118 Marketing Director said “The Channel 4 Drama sponsorship has delivered on all of our objectives.

"We have preserved the integrity of the brand and led in the marketplace, whilst maintaining our call volumes with half of our traditional TV spend”.

This confidence was further demonstrated by 118118’s decision to continue the sponsorship into 2006/7 for a further 1-year term.

This truly proved that 118118 are always ready for any drama.

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