TelstraClear has first go at lifting brand weight on TV
By Duncan Bridgeman
CLEAN AND JERK: TelstraClear is showing off its muscle but can it compete with its rivals?
TelstraClear has released its first television advertisements since the merger last year but faces a tough job competing with its rival telecommunication companies.
Advertising agency Mojo ended up with the telecommunication company's hefty marketing account, having headed off rival agency Generator Bates.
Industry observers say large organisations in New Zealand generally have a poor track record when it comes to communicating to large audiences.
Exceptions such as Telecom's "Spot" campaign and the current ASB Bank "Goldstein" advertisements had worked well by "humanising" the audience but were generally "few and far between."
Howard Russell, of Strategic Insight, who has carried out an audit of the advertising industry, said TelstraClear needed to quickly strike a chord with its television audience by creating a signature people could immediately identify with or the company would suffer from apathetic audiences.
Although not commenting directly on the new commercials, Mr Russell pointed out some common traps organisations and advertising agencies could fall into.
First on the list was creating a signature people could relate to straight away, which was often overlooked for flashy, new ideas, he said.
"The trouble is [big organisations] quite often go for cleverness before rightness because no one wants to bring in something boring.
"But there's nothing worse than something that's a fantastic ad but nobody can remember who it's for."
TelstraClear's brand manager, Pip Davis, said the campaign would initially focus on binding the two companies by motivating the new workforce.
"We want to work in the business market but also we don't want to ignore the residential market by any stretch of the imagination," Ms Davis said.
Mr Russell said it depressed him to see new marketing people and new ad agencies come in wanting to do it differently. "It's just a waste of money."
Whatever it does, TelstraClear has its work cut out. Competitors Vodafone and Telecom have different strengths but had established, distinctive brands.
"The ultimate test is what they're trying to tell you - they're spending a lot of money so it will have to have a signature and tell the audience what they do."
That, Mr Russell said, was something Clear Communications has "failed to do in the past."
Other observers questioned how long the company would maintain its current focus before moving to introduce a brand promise.
It was unclear whether chief executive Rosemary Howard would appear in any television commercials.
One industry source said it was surprising the company was targeting the business community yet the initial advertisements featured children playing on swings.
"It will be interesting how they package their offers. The easy thing for Vodaphone is "we do mobile" but the question is does Telstra sell as individual products or as a cluster underpinned by the TelstraClear brand?"
The newly merged entity serves more than 300,000 business and residential customers in the three main centres and also in the main provincial centres.
The next big growth area in the telecommunications market - in this country anyway - will be supplying broadband services to the bigger medium-sized businesses. How the company intends to market this area is another key issue in the advertising war.
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