Beyond bunnies

Over 2005, Canada's second biggest phone company graduated from chameleons to bunnies and muscled its way into the top 10 biggest ad spenders of the year. While little seems to have changed in terms of advertising (Telus declined comment in this piece), its marketing budget certainly has. Money may just be the one remaining tactic available to big brands like Telus in the increasingly aggressive telco market, says Lindsay Meredith, professor of marketing strategy in the school of business at Vancouver's Simon Fraser University.

Over 2005, Canada’s second biggest phone company graduated from chameleons to bunnies and muscled its way into the top 10 biggest ad spenders of the year. While little seems to have changed in terms of advertising (Telus declined comment in this piece), its marketing budget certainly has. Money may just be the one remaining tactic available to big brands like Telus in the increasingly aggressive telco market, says Lindsay Meredith, professor of marketing strategy in the school of business at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University.

‘It’s a lousy business to be in,’ he says, pointing to the growing number of players in the sandbox – from cable companies, to wireless, to VoIP. ‘[The market] is fragmented to hell. It’s not like the old days when you said: ‘Name me a brand of soap’ and there were only one or two major ones and everybody used them.’

On the one hand, while the market may be cluttered, in the end, the overwhelmed consumer ‘may remember the cute little bunnies,’ he says. ‘If the brand awareness is there and it’s strong, that means you’re probably getting your money’s worth if they’re asking about your brand before they start checking out the competitors,’ he says. But with the disloyal consumer of tomorrow, he says the battle may simply come down to price.

Still, brand analysts like Marla Chow, VP client services at Toronto-based Spencer Francey Peters, say that the brand continues to be regarded as ‘innovative’ and ‘fresh.’ It even managed to make Canadian Business magazine’s 2005 poll of best-managed brands up dramatically from one of the worst last year – and it was the only telco to make the list.

‘It is a reasonably strong brand overall,’ says Meredith. ‘ Certainly the ads that they have run up to this point have done well by it. The question is whether that will be sufficient to hold on to the action down the line.’

For now at least things are going swimmingly: Last month the company reported fourth quarter revenues were up 6% over the same period last year.