It’s still good to talk, but increasingly BT customers are doing where they want, via connected mobile devices rather than landline broadband and old-fashioned phones.
In recognition of this generational change, BT quietly announced in a blog post on Wednesday that after more than 30 years and some of the UK’s highest-profile advertising campaigns, its flagship consumer brand needs to take a back seat to launch EE in its marketing strategy.
The company, which came into being as British Telecom in 1980 when it was still part of the postal service and adopted BT as its name and brand in 1991, said it was developing the way it markets to consumers to focus on using EE identity.
It stressed that the BT brand will not be retired, saying it will play an “important but more focused role” for consumer customers who have independent broadband and landline services. EE will now come to the forefront, not just for mobile services, but bundles that include super-fast broadband.
“Having both BT and EE in an already crowded consumer market means we have to have two of everything, and that makes life harder for our customers and our people,” said Marc Allera, CEO of BT Consumer, in the blog post. “We have to simplify things. From today, we will start the preparations to make the EE brand our flagship brand for consumer customers with a focus on convergence and future services. ”
The BT brand will also continue to be used for BT Sport, the pay-TV service that will be part of a joint venture with Warner Bros. Discovery, and become the leading brand for its business-to-business and global activities. BT will also remain a co-brand at the company’s 550 high street stores and appear in advertising campaigns.
BT is one of the largest advertisers in the UK with sources in the media industry estimating that the company spent more than £ 150 million on all forms of marketing for its BT, EE and Plusnet brands in the last year.
Over the years, its TV commercials have featured the late Bob Hoskins – who told viewers “it’s good to talk” in the 1990s – and recently Hollywood stars including Jeremy Renner, Alex Baldwin and Ryan Reynolds.
EE, which BT bought for £ 12.5bn. in 2016, has existed as a brand since 2012, after it was formed by the merger of French Orange and German T-Mobile.
Kester Mann, director of consumer and connectivity at CCS Insight, said: “Running two major consumer brands was never something BT could go on indefinitely. For the BT brand, the announcement represents a lack of resonance among Britain’s increasingly tech-savvy consumers.
“EE appears to be better equipped to lead the next chapter in BT’s consumer business as it looks to bring new products and services to market beyond traditional connectivity options.”
BT, which has 20 million broadband, telephone, TV and landline customers, said the EE brand has “captured the hearts of consumers across all demographic areas … with a strong brand that can stretch into new areas “.