There are more than 137,000 BT payphones in the UK. PR activity for
this division of BT had been carried out on an ad hoc basis using a
roster of agencies. In June this year BT Payphones decided to make PR
more cohesive and invited agencies to pitch. Both Band and Brown and QBO
identified ’the Street’ as an appropriate campaign theme, prompting BT
to give both agencies a slice of the business.
To position BT Payphones as ’owning’ contemporary street life and create
a warm and fun image for the brand.
Band and Brown and QBO initially worked together to make sure there
would be no duplication in terms of concepts and target audience.
Band and Brown concentrated on creating competitions in publications
aimed at target audiences. Following the success of its Poems in the
Payphone competition in 1996, it launched a poetry writing competition
in the Young Telegraph and targeted teachers and regional media to
In July, readers of teen magazine Sugar were invited to write a short
script centring around a UK street scene and involving a BT Payphone,
with the prize of a holiday in Australia and a day on the set of TV soap
opera Neighbours. Other competitions planned include a script writing
competition in the Guardian during National Film Week in November and a
photography competition in style bible i-D magazine.
Sponsorship has been the other focus of Band and Brown’s work so
In August, BT Payphones sponsored the British In-Line Skate
Championships at the National Exhibition Centre, and created an in-line
skating event in London at the end of October.
QBO’s first main project was to organise BT Payphones’ presence at the
Notting Hill Carnival. This included staffing ten information kiosks,
producing an advertorial in the carnival guide in the Big Issue and the
Guardian, and running regional competitions with prizes of a weekend at
In January QBO plans to launch Street Smart, a community street-cleaning
initiative with local councils.
More than 300 entries had been received for the Sugar competition by
early October - an excellent response given the demanding mechanic.
There were 7,000 entries in the Poems in the Payphone competition
compared to 3,000 in 1996 and regional coverage stood at 105 cuttings by
late September compared to 92 last year. Many teachers used the
competition as the basis for a lesson on communications.
Sponsorship of the In-Line Skate Championships was covered on BBC
Newsround and there were six regional news items. Over 2,500 people
attended and BTP flyers were distributed in trendy shops. In-line
skating stars the Jagger Brothers signed autographs on the flyers.
London radio station News Direct carried an interview on BT Payphones’
involvement in the Notting Hill Carnival and there was a mention on
radio station Kiss FM. The competition for a weekend at the carnival
appeared in papers in Middlesbrough, Liverpool and Birmingham.
A strong and pertinent theme has been developed for BT Payphones’ PR and
the agencies are to be praised for their creativity in thinking up
variations on the theme and making payphones interesting.
A number of different target audiences have been reached, but the
campaign could be criticised for being scattergun rather than having one
One overall campaign might have had a greater impact on the national
Client: BT Payphones
PR Team: Band and Brown and Quentin Bell Organisation
Campaign: Street Life
Timescale: July 1997, ongoing
Cost: Around pounds 250,000