Mercury scraps Oliver & Claire ads

Phone company Mercury Communications is axing the controversial “World of Oliver & Claire” cartoon ad campaign only six months after its launch.

The 5m campaign, which was criticised by the advertising community, was devised by HHCL & Partners. It broke in February in the press and on TV in May.

The campaign was targeted at the business community and aimed to woo customers away from other telecoms providers.

The two characters have already been dropped from a through-the-line push by agency Craik Jones targeting residential customers and will not appear in future executions.

According to sources close to the company, the campaign did not perform well in research, which indicated high levels of consumer confusion. Mercury has told the agency to devise a fresh campaign.

It was the first campaign of Mercury’s new marketing director Simon Esberger, who joined last year.

The Oliver & Claire initiative was the first major branding push since the Harry Enfield Mr Grayson campaign was dropped in 1994.

When the campaign launched in February the agency bought every ad slot in The Sunday Times business section as well as a large amount of space in other papers.

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