Over the past 30 years, BT has consistently been one of the biggest marketing spenders in the UK, and as a consequence it has remained one of the biggest brands. Its brand icons and ambassadors have entered the folklore and language: from the Buzzbee cartoon character of the 70s, through to Maureen Lipman’s Jewish Grandma later in the decade (You’ve got an ‘ology’? You’re a scientist!), to Bob Hoskins’ gangster-turned-good in the 90s (it’s good to talk).
Such ads tell the story of BT’s marketing during the period: overwhelmingly consumer-orientated, with business-focused activity a low-key sideline. The mass market consumer was the telecoms giant’s abiding focus, due to the size of the market and relative paucity of the B2B sector, and its advertising simply reflected this.
That is until now. The situation changed dramatically last October when BT launched what it touted as the biggest ever B2B campaign for its Global Services division, targeting large corporates with voice, data and other telecommunications services. Through-the-line activity was spearheaded by high-impact, Fifth Element-inspired TV ads designed to illustrate the multi-platform digital world in which business is conducted in the 21 century. Costing up to £50 million for a global run in two bursts (the second wave broke in May) the campaign represents a major commitment to the business sector and signified that the corporation is at last taking the B2B sector as seriously as its takes B2C.