ADVERTISING: CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK; Mercury’s oliver and claire

MT Rainey managing partner Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe

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

business market.

If anyone can do it, they can.


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