RealTime IT News

BT Spending Big Bucks on Broadband

Venerable UK telephony giant BT Group is working to lay the groundwork for boosting consumer demand for its broadband products, through a #33 million ($51 million) ad campaign slated for later this year.

The company said it's expecting the massive television and online advertising expenditure to double the number of subscribers it signs up weekly for its ADSL to 24,000, which would lead to one million new signups by summer.

BT said it plans to drop #1 million per day from Sept. 22 through Oct. 2 using TV ads that speak to the creative potential of broadband by showing computer-rendered creatures (like dragons) and musicians (such as Jarvis Cocker, lead singer of UK pop band Pulp). The campaign, dubbed "Possibilities," also will include an online game that features characters from the ads.

The spots will all draw heavily on BT's new tagline, "More connections. More possibilities." Agency of record St. Luke's handled the creative.

The ten-day effort precedes a separate, #23 million ($36 million) campaign focused specifically on a product called BT Broadband, which is aimed at cost-conscious consumers and being sold by the company's BT Retail unit.

"Developing awareness through marketing is a very important component of the BT Group's broadband strategy," said Pierre Danon, chief executive officer of BT Retail. "Such will be the intensity of this campaign, that it will be virtually impossible to miss the messages it gives about the potential of this exciting technology and the benefits it brings."

Although BT Broadband, which offers access only without Web storage space and e-mail accounts, has been available since June, the company has spent relatively little promoting the service but has seen some interest in the service from consumers, it said. With the debut of the product-oriented phase of the campaign, BT Group said it expects to drive 500,000 new subscriptions for the service by summer.

"Last week alone, we took 1,700 orders," said Angus Porter, managing director of BT Retail's consumer division. "Previous experience tells us that when the marketing campaign kicks in, the number of connections will increase significantly."

"When you consider we have not yet done a scrap of advertising for BT Broadband, the number of customers already signing up is excellent, giving us solid confidence that we will reach the target we have set for next year," he added.

The campaign comes as a major push for the ailing giant to right itself after a dismal year, which saw a widespread overhaul of its business and scurrying to shore up its debt. Spending on the effort totals almost 15 percent of BT Retail's annual ad budget.

The effort not only aims to boost revenue for the company, however. BT has been criticized in recent months as a laggard in promoting broadband in the UK -- charging higher prices for use of its lines by ISPs than the rest of Europe and taking longer to unbundle its local networks, which hinders competition.

In February, the company took some steps toward addressing the problem by cutting rates, though the UK's Office of Telecommunications has proposed that the company again slash fees that it charges for use of its lines by ISPs.