A chap's guide to chat-up lines

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The Independent Online
British Telecom will be targeting "Nineties man" in its new pounds 25m media blitz scheduled to break tomorrow.

Comedian Hugh Laurie, who has signed a pounds 500,000 one-year contract, replaces Bob Hoskins as BT's front man for the campaign.

During the series of four ads, BT's slogan will also undergo a subtle - and unwieldy, some think - change: "It's good to talk" becomes "It's good to talk and listen."

BT will spend another pounds 5m promoting and sending out a free booklet - in lime green - called "Talkworks" to customers to teach them better "listening skills". Around 900,000 have been requested so far, and the company hopes to send out more than 2 million in all.

The first Laurie ad will feature a man calling a woman with whom he has just shared a night of passion, and not knowing what to say.

"Far too little attention is paid to the way men communicate," said Adrian Hosford, BT's marketing director for the campaign. "When men do get on the phone it can be like verbal jousting rather than a collaborative effort."

Mr Hosford added that British men only spend an average of 10 minutes a day chatting on the phone, compared with more than 20 minutes a day for French and German men.

An important aim of the campaign is to get men to communicate more by phone, he said.

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