How new media can help revive success

Matthew Bottomley, director of new media product marketing at Yell in the UK, explains the reasons for the return of its Directory Heaven campaign in support of its award-winning 118 24 7 service.

Matthew Bottomley
Matthew Bottomley

On many levels the decision on whether to bring back our Directory Heaven campaign to the small screen was not a tough one.

The campaign in April was hugely successful – we saw some of the biggest movements in brand measures (awareness, disposition to use, cut through) I’ve ever experienced as a marketer, it was a big hit on social networking sites (more than 450,000 views on YouTube for instance and a significant following on Facebook), and it drove a massive 70% increase in calls compared with pre-campaign levels.

A number of factors did make us think hard about it though. The biggest questions where around strategic fit and how we saw the market developing.

Our goal is to be the number one player in the markets in which we operate, and our consumer proposition is ‘free to use’. Yellow Pages and clearly meet these criteria, but what about 118 24 7? It’s not free to use, and we were a somewhat distant third in the market in terms of call volumes – well behind 118 118 .

We also expect the market to continue its gradual decline, something that’s been happening for some years.

So, strategically you’re left with a shrinking market, high costs to serve and a perception that the service costs too much. What do you do? This is a difficult challenge – especially if your revenue is tied to call volumes.

We could see that some competitors were improving their margins by aggressively stripping out call handling costs, which in this business mainly means the cost of the person answering the phone, by outsourcing calls to other countries. Even to
US prisons, as I read recently. Others are subsidising the cost of the call by forcing users to listen to adverts before giving them the number they want.

Neither of these sounds like Directory Heaven and neither answers our strategic fit issue.

We wanted to offer directory enquiries that are both free and have a great service from real people when you need it.

How are we going to do it? Well, we are already doing exactly that – it’s just that people aren’t that aware of it. The perfect reason to re-run Directory Heaven.

People are already using mobile on their smartphones to answer their basic directory needs like the number for their favourite restaurant or a taxi to get them home. mobile has already established itself as a must-have application – see for more info – and it’s free to use (without having to listen to annoying adverts).

And in 118 24 7 we believe people still need to speak to real people when they have a complex need or when they can’t quickly find what they’re looking for. This is where having a call centre with a great reputation for customer service comes in. 118 24 7 is that service – we’ve won the best UK service award at the prestigous International Directory Assistance Awards every year that the category has been run. And we believe people will happily pay for this type of service because there is a clear exchange of value.

So, taken together we believe that mobile and 118 24 7 really is Directory Heaven. A free service through mobile for those times you just need a number and need it quickly and a best in class service through 118 24 7 for when you really need to speak to someone who knows their stuff.

We’ve therefore subtly changed the adverts to bring out these factors – the sign in the opening shots refers to our best in class service credentials, and, importantly, from mid December the end frame will have a call to action to download our free mobile app from We’ll be looking to build on this further in the new year.



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