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Orange to double advertising budget to stay ahead of competitors

Orange, the newest of the UK's mobile phone networks, is planning to double its advertising spending. Its first fully fledged assault on the business market starts today.

Orange is likely to raise its press, poster and broadcast advertising budget next year from pounds 25m to pounds 50m in a long-term bid to keep its place as the fastest growing of the four mobile operators. It signed up its millionth mobile customer in July.

The new campaigns, which will represent a significant departure for the Orange brand, will intensify the tough competition between the networks. Of the other three, Vodafone is spending pounds 35m bringing its various retail chains under its single main brand, while One 2 One has spent heavily on television advertising this year.

The first phase of the Orange promotion starts today with a pounds 1m press campaign aimed at attracting business customers. The press adverts feature fake management "guru" books to highlight specific services.

Since its launch Orange has been more successful targeting personal customers and some small business users. Though it sells services to 45 of the top 100 UK companies it plans to invest more in targeting large businesses.

Robert Fallow, Orange's recently appointed marketing director, said today's business campaign would be "the tip of the iceberg", with a further push from October to December. He said the new adverts, designed by the WCRS agency, would concentrate on specific segments of the market. "You will see a much more targeted approach to the market."

Mobile networks have traditionally concentrated their TV advertising at Christmas, which spectacularly backfired for Cellnet and Vodafone in 1995. They attracted many low-spending customers with discounts, who later left the networks at considerable cost to the operators.

Orange recently pledged to double its investment budget to pounds 800m by early 1999. The investment includes building hundreds more signal base stations to improve reception quality.