The Number hires Chime duo for fresh 118 118 blitz

118 118 has enlisted Chime Communications to lobby for further deregulation of the directory enquiries market and woo users from rivals.

Bell Pottinger Corporate & Financial has taken on a corporate brief at The Number, with sister agency Resonate handling consumer PR ahead of a fresh ad campaign. The duo were hired without a pitch.

The Chime-owned agencies will command a portion of a £10m marketing budget, said The Number comms director William Ostrom.

This year's PR drive will continue to target 20 to 30-year-old city-dwellers. The Number, with 45 per cent of the directory enquiries market, became the most popular service of its type when the market was opened up to competition in 2003.

It is keen to promote the accuracy of its service and highlight the fact that it is the most-dialled number in Britain – taking more calls even than 999.

A TV ad campaign breaks on 15 February, with the iconic moustachioed runners in a spoof of 1980s show The A-Team .

The Number hired Mark Horgan as CEO last May from DIY retailer MFI. Since his arrival the firm, owned by private US company
InfoNXX, has appointed investment bank Goldman Sachs, prompting rumours of a possible stock market listing in the near future.

118 118's dominance could be challenged by a new service launched this week from The Post Office. Its 118 855 offering promises to charge a 40p flat rate – cheaper than The Number, which typically charges 14p per minute plus 49p per call.

A National Audit Office report in August claimed the public were yet to benefit from directory enquiries deregulation because aggressive marketing spend has compelled operators to keep service prices high.

BPC&F director Ben Woodford will head both the corporate and consumer account, reporting to Ostrom.

Previously, Cow PR worked for The Number on a three-month website project last year. Brazil PR oversaw the launch of 118 118 in 2003.

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