BT is understood to be using a US direct marketing agency to develop a direct mail programme intended for the UK market.
The move effectively threatens BT’s long-standing relationship with Ogilvy & Mather Direct, which handles the bulk of BT’s multimillion pound direct marketing programme. It is thought to be O&M’s largest UK account.
The US hiring stems from the increasing influence wielded in the BT marketing department by US consultant Ed Carter. One source close to BT claims Carter himself wrote the copy for the mailshot, which is being developed in the States.
Carter was hired by BT a few months ago from Bell Canada where he was also a consultant. His background and expertise is in advising national telecoms operations under threat from new competitors.
Carter runs his own consultancy, Carter Marketing Group, which is based in Litchfield, South Carolina in the US.
Sources say Carter has been hired by BT specifically to advise it on how to defend its market share.
BT has consistently played down Carter’s role in the marketing department. It is understood, however, that he is highly influential within BT and that he often involves himself with advertising copy and television scripts.
Since the departure of Michael Biden, sales and marketing director of BT’s personal communications division, at the beginning of this year, the division’s managing director Stafford Taylor has taken on the vacant role.
O&M Direct is still working with BT and has just completed a national press campaign to break at the end of next month, supporting the launch of BT’s Internet service.