MT Rainey managing partner Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe
After the disappearance of those blue telephone boxes, the embarrassment
of the One2One campaign and the early retirement of Mr Cholmondley
Warner, it seemed that Mercury went a bit quiet for a while, didn’t it?
Obviously, a changing of the guard and a bit of strategic soul-searching
has been going on over there.
Of course, when we heard of the appointment of the glamorous Simon ‘ice
cream’ Esberger and then Dominic ‘enfant terrible’ Owens, we should have
known that something ‘different’ would be going down.
Now, when planet Mercury collides with shooting stars at Michaelides
Bednas and HHCL we really can expect fireworks.
So I hope you all noticed, then, the complete hijacking of the Sunday
Times Business Section and the main or sports sections of all the
national qualities last Monday by a cartoon strip called ‘The World of
Oliver and Claire’. I certainly did.
In each title, they took every single available advertising space in a
wide variety of shapes and sizes to launch this new campaign vehicle for
Mercury in the small business market.
But this didn’t seem like just another roadblocking stunt to me. It was
just as much about generating familiarity and involvement as it was
about getting noticed.
The cartoon-strip concept is designed to humanise the issues and
problems of using office technology.
It’s charming and nicely done - I love the floating baby - but in itself
it’s really quite unremarkable.
In fact, if this concept had been approached in a conventional fashion
it would have taken ages to make an impact and to build up awareness.
The point is that they have now forced us to notice it and at one fell
swoop we have become famliar with the look and involved with the
characters. Instant branding!
What they have quite possibly built through this unique launch is a
‘readership’ for the campaign vehicle rather than just awareness of the
As we know from Millertime, the challenge with advertising that takes
‘editorial’ as its cultural reference point is keeping it as funny and
entertaining as the stuff around it.
So, going forward, the Mercury campaign will have to be written as if it
was meant to sell newspapers as well as selling Mercury to the small
If anyone can do it, they can.