BT is the UK's leading telecoms provider, but has suffered for several years from strategic blunders made in the 1990s. During that decade, BT set out to be "the most successful worldwide communications group" but somehow failed to build on its existing strengths and was outpaced by a series of more aggressive competitors including domestic rival Vodafone. The purchase of minority stakes in foreign competitors left BT with a huge debt mountain by early 2001, and the group was forced to sell off almost all of its international assets in order to repair finances and improve performance. With extraordinary lack of foresight, it also sold off its wireless division (subsequently relaunched as O2), with the result that BT became the only national telecoms carrier in any major market which did not offer its own proprietary mobile service. A new management team had repaired much of the damage by the end of 2003 and launched a new expansion drive in the UK, including the aggressive roll-out of broadband, culminating in the launch of a internet-connected BT TV service in 2006. Yet even in the mid 2010s the group was still struggling with legacy problems within its BT Global Services consultancy division, and even now battles regulators over inefficiencies within its Openreach division which manages the UK's telecoms infrastructure on behalf of rival operators as well as BT. It managed to stave off pressure to demerge that business altogether - it is BT's biggest profit centre - but has been forced to ring-fence the business to offer improved service to third-party customers. The company's international profile is still negligible by comparison with European rivals Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Telefonica, but BT finally re-established a dominant position in UK mobile in 2015 with the acquisition of local market leader EE. It also operates unbranded challenger mobile brand PlusNet. Yet another downturn in performance in 2017 prompted the departure a year later of CEO Gavin Patterson. His successor is Philip Jansen. Revenues for the year to 2018 were £23.7bn, down 1% on the year before. BT Consumer, including EE, accounted for 43% of that total. The group has a leading 36% share of the UK broadband market - around 9.3m customers - and 28% of mobile through EE.
Capsule checked 20th July 2018
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Adbrands Social Media 25th Jan 2019: "Be There". After a prolonged dry spell (mostly unfunny "comedy" ads with big name stars), the UK's flag-carrier telecoms business BT and its agency AMV BBDO have rediscovered their mojo in the last year or so with a series of moodier and more illustrative films, usually underpinned by a strong creative idea. It's a perfect example of the old chestnut "show, don't tell". You don't need a celeb to tell us how good BT is (supposedly). Give us a visual depiction of it. This one conjures up an excellent illustration of a household cluttered with every family member's internet content as a way of demonstrating the benefits of investing in whole house wi-fi
Adbrands Weekly Update 14th Jun 2018: Ads of the Week: "Song". AMV BBDO's latest for UK telecoms leader BT steps up a gear from its predecessor, which we also featured here. That one was sweetly old-fashioned, with paper planes illustrating the barrage of texts and data flowing through the air from phone to phone. This is a bit more urban-modern, tracking a girl's progress through an average night accompanied by New Order's timeless 80's classic Blue Monday. Great to hear that again as the soundtrack for an ad. Perhaps a bit more could have been done to tie sound and vision together. You could almost miss the fact that all the various passers-by are in sync with the music and singing the lyrics along with Bernard Sumner. Less subtle might have been more fun.
Adbrands Weekly Update 14th Jun 2018: Gavin Patterson, CEO of UK telecoms giant BT, is to depart the group later this year following 18 months of poor performance by the company and a sinking share price. BT chairman Jan du Plessis told the FT, "As a chairman this is a black-and-white situation. You either fully support your CEO or you don't. There is no middle ground." However, Patterson has been asked to remain in his role until a successor can be appointed.
Adbrands Social Media 19th May 2018: "Moments". It's been a very long time since a new BT corporate ad was something to celebrate. However the UK's troubled telecoms operator has finally given longtime agency AMV BBDO a brief to get their teeth into: rebuild brand warmth. It's a bit of an uphill struggle, but the agency has come up with a really excellent concept: convert those numerous occasions in which we use BT's networks every day from bleeps of data into paper planes. It's a smart and attention-grabbing visual symbol. Our only question: why do all of BT's customers seem to live in council blocks? Maybe that's just the best place from which to launch your plane...
Adbrands Weekly Update 18th May 2017: UK telecoms leader BT reported a sizeable dent in profits for the year to March as a result of improper accounting at its Italian IT services subsidiary and a stiff fine from UK regulators over historical bad behaviour at its broadband division Openreach. Total one-off charges were almost £970m. However these were mostly offset by the addition of a first full year contribution from leading UK mobile service EE, which helped revenues to soar by 27% to £24.1bn. Nevertheless, pretax profits halved in the final quarter, lowering the annual figure by 19% to £2.35bn. The company announced plans to cut 4,000 back office and managerial jobs, and will pay no bonus this year to group CEO Gavin Patterson or its CFO.
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