In early 2010, Yellow Pages Australia recognised that its prospects for growth were impeded -business advertisers perceived it as 'nothing more than an outdated print directory'. It had to act before the start of the annual selling cycle in April, or face the prospect of a 20%-30% plummet in total revenues.
Yellow Pages was used on and offline by more than 4.5m Australians a week and thanks to a recent deal with Google, it had the widest digital reach of the country's directories. These factors highlighted that the business's problem was not one of performance, but of perception. Yellow Pages' primary target market was small to medium-sized businesses and yet it had a print-only relationship with 45% of the segment. Yellow Pages created a pizza restaurant almost entirely hidden from view, located in the basement of an abandoned building. The only place its details were listed was in the Yellow Pages. Flyers offering consumers free pizza were distributed and a six-person call centre was set up to establish where people had heard about the restaurant. Hidden cameras at the filmed customers at the restaurant, which after two weeks the restaurant was closed and Yellow Pages revealed itself. A branded TV campaign was launched using the content captured from the restaurant, with radio and digital ad support.
It was Yellow Pages' most effective-ever advertiser-targeted campaign and succeeded in shifting perceptions of the brand as outdated, driving 20,000 new business leads during the April-September selling cycle, exceeding lead targets by 15% and generating an ROI of $10.8 for every $1 of marketing spend.