Hard-sell won’t boost One2One

George Pitcher in his piece “One2One to face UK regulation with US-style marketing plans” (MW September 27) sadly got some of his facts wrong and therefore his key conclusions.

A new network launching tomorrow clearly cannot simply launch nationally. None of the current players did. It costs billions to build all the sites and takes several years.

One2One faced a market where all research evidence showed the great majority of people thought mobile phones were for “yuppie posers”. Neither Vodafone nor Cellnet had consistent campaigns, or addressed this.

The opening gambit, to try to normalise mobile phone usage by being “the people’s phone” plus concentrating all efforts on Greater London, was in fact a success. It had 100,000 subscribers before Orange had 20,000 and over 200,000 when Orange was claiming its first 100,000.

Part of this more mass-market success was offering free local calls. What went wrong was the consolidation phase. The original marketing team all left. The new team decided to concentrate on London and the South-east and not to roll out nationally. Vodafone and Cellnet got their acts together. Orange rolled out and mobile phones rapidly became normalised.

The challenge facing One2One now is how do you arrive fourth in certain regions of the country when you have no competitive edge. It’s a national brand positioning that is needed, not simply aggressive sales tactics, US or UK-style.

Chris Woollams

The Woollams Outsourcing Company

London SW3

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