INDUSTRY Viewpoint

Orange’s advertising has provoked responses that range from “confusing and pretentious” on the one hand to “intrusive and powerful” on the other. But the key question is: does it get the message across?

Most people were intrigued but bemused by the company’s launch campaign. Orange’s parent group, Hutchison Telecom, claimed this advertising, devised by WCRS, established Orange’s vision of “wirefree communication”.

BT’s research has shown this advertising encouraged people to perceive the brand as impenetrable and aloof. Nevertheless, the initial campaign cut through a cluttered market and helped established the Orange brand as a serious player.

The Orange launch was similar to that of First Direct, created by agency HHCL & Partners. Both brands made their debut on an innovative platform and built awareness rapidly. However, both were hamstrung by an enigmatic image that lacked appeal, other than to early adopters.

Orange’s most recent advertisements focus on product features. The 60-second commercial draws an analogy between the crowded population in South-east Asia and Orange’s network capacity: “There will always be room for your call.”

It is an involving piece of communication with powerful imagery. Three supporting 20-second commercials feature caller ID, 24-hour handset replacement and per-second charging.

Television production values have always been a hallmark of Orange’s advertising, associating the brand with quality. Earlier this summer, Hutchison sponsored the D&AD Festival of Excellence on the grounds that it reflected the importance that its Orange brand places on creativity.

Competition is certainly hotting up.

Cellnet and Mercury One-2-One are each starting a new push. Cellnet’s campaign, through Abbott Mead Vickers.BBDO, positions the brand as bringing people together, wherever they may be. It is beautifully observed and brave enough not to feature a mobile phone.

Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s commercials for One-2-One set out to demonstrate specific product benefits such as local weekend calls and message retrieval. My view is that the action undermines, rather than underpins, the clarity of the proposition. Vodafone has not yet unveiled its campaign.

Orange’s advertising has made its mark. It has served Hutchison well by helping to establish a distinctive brand personality. The question is whether Orange wants to maintain its current position or mount a serious challenge to Cellnet and Vodafone. The danger is it could fall between two stools.

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