FreeServe in £30m Rebranding as Wanadoo

05 August 2002

Britain’s largest internet service provider FreeServe is reportedly to rebrand at a cost of up to £30 million ($47.10m; €47.84m).

The intention is to unify the ISP's brand identity with that of its parent company, France Telecom-owned Wanadoo, thus creating a pan-European superbrand. Wanadoo dominates its home market with over 60% share and is also a major player in the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain.

As yet no-one is saying when the change will take place but it is clearly not imminent. According to a FreeServe spokesperson: “There’s an intention to do it but we need to find out what the impact will be.” Nor would the ISP reveal whether the rebranding might trigger a change in its relationship with media planning/buying shop Walker Media.

Until its sale in December 2000, FreeServe was a wholly-owned unit of electronics retailing giant Dixons Stores Group, and hailed as a runaway online success in all respects but one. Profitability.

DSG, an enthusiast for loss-leaders when funded by suppliers, was less fervent about a venture that that siphoned millions in cash from its own bottom line. This shortcoming was rectified in December 2000 when FreeServe was sold to France Telecom for a cool £1.65 billion.

FreeServe currently claims over 2.5m UK subscribers, outgunning AOL and BT.

Data sourced from: Media Week (UK); additional content by WARC staff