CIPR Excellence Awards 2005: 'Survival' competition drives new Phone Book - Consumer Relations

Campaign: The Phone Book

Client: BT

PR team: Band & Brown Communications

Timescale: April-September 2004

Budget band: £100,000 to £1,000,000

The popularity of online search engines, new directory enquiries firms and the use of mobiles to store numbers have all affected the relevance of The Phone Book. The sale of Yell as part of a debt reduction programme in 2001 and deregulation of 192 spurred BT to create a combined directory of classified, residential and business numbers.


To create awareness of, and anticipation for, the new book. To maximise the book's relevance to the general public, secure initial adoption and encourage repeat usage. To attract 20 to 40-year-old users of The Phone Book, particularly women.

Strategy and Plan

Band & Brown Communications' research found classified listings were used for 'quick fixes' - emergency plumbers, taxis and takeaways - rather than browsing for restaurants, health or beauty salons. It positioned The Phone Book as a 'valuable companion for ideas', labelling it 'The Book of Life'.

B&B dramatised the benefits of the book with a radio promotion, where contestants spent one week in a Perspex box in major shopping centres. Their only means of survival was a small budget, a phone and The Phone Book. Participants were challenged by the public and radio stations to complete various tasks, including finding karaoke machines to entertain passers-by.

Measurement and Evaluation

More than 80 pieces of national and regional press coverage were notched up, reaching more than 11.5 million people. Broadcast coverage included London Today.


During the promotional period, BT's share of the UK directories market rose from six per cent to ten per cent. The Perspex box competition was so successful that B&B organised a London finale, which became Capital FM's Christmas promotion for 2004.

The event was staged in the East Piazza of Covent Garden from 6-11 December with a 'celebrity day' that saw DJs and actress Joanna Taylor, among others, enter the box for a day to source products for partner charity Help a London Child.

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