Consistent savings message

Unitel maximizes market's interestClient: Unitel CommunicationsProduct: Long-distance telephone serviceAgency: Ogilvy & Mather DirectRelative to other direct response advertisers, long-distance service provider Unitel Communications had a distinct advantage when it launched its service in 1992, says Heather MacPherson, the company's director of...

Unitel maximizes market’s interest

Client: Unitel Communications

Product: Long-distance telephone service

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather Direct

Relative to other direct response advertisers, long-distance service provider Unitel Communications had a distinct advantage when it launched its service in 1992, says Heather MacPherson, the company’s director of advertising.

‘Long-distance competition was a highly newsworthy event,’ MacPherson says. ‘You couldn’t be unaware of it.

‘So, I would not say we had great difficulty in getting people to read or watch or interact with our direct marketing campaign because the issue was of high interest,’ she says.

MacPherson says the challenge was in keeping the savings message consistent over the different direct response vehicles used – tv, free-standing inserts and direct mail packages to senior executives that included working telephones.

Q. How did the campaign come about?

A. Our original campaign was built to launch Unitel as a long-distance provider in the Canadian marketplace.

Although we were already serving the business community with some of our other telecommunications products, we needed to promote our long-distance service to small business and residential customers as well.

Q. What were your objectives?

A. When the [Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission] deregulated the industry, we wanted to position ourselves as the alternative if you were no longer satisified with your local phone company and the rates that they were charging you.

We wanted to tell people a little bit about Unitel – who we are, why we are here – and encourage them to call us to find out how they could save on their long-distance charges.

Q. Why did you select direct marketing as the medium to get your message across?

A. I think because we were trying to build a direct relationship with our customers. We wanted to allow them to get hold of us quickly and be able to utilize our services as quickly as they could. Our whole marketing campaign is based on building that direct relationship.

And also, when you are new to the market, and you need to acquire customers, direct response marketing is the most efficient and effective way to do that. We don’t do any advertising that is not direct response.

Q. How did you make the creative work for your product?

A. We started with the base positioning, and tailored that to each medium. Therefore, each component looks like it comes from the same company, they act like they come from the same company, and they carry the message in a way which is suited to that medium.

In television, you have a limited amount of time. It’s a visually-oriented medium. We used tv to get the message out that we were here, that we were here to provide Canadians savings. We gave our 800 number. And beyond that, we didn’t have the opportunity to go into too much detail.

In the fsi and the solo direct mail piece, we had the opportunity to tell people more about the company, and about the actual savings plans that we offer.

We wanted to make sure that every piece of communication was true to our core strategy, was true to our savings message and reflected the tone of the company.

We have been very diligent about that and I think [our agency] Ogilvy & Mather has been a great source in helping us to stay the course.