The quixotic UK publicist Max Clifford and Harrods department store owner Mohammed Al Fayed are planning to introduce a Harrods-branded public telephone service, in competition with British Telecommunications Plc. The details of the deal will be announced in a month. This is the second foray into the telecommunications as opposed to the communications business for public relations king Clifford. This week he launched a range of celebrity endorsed phone cards. The first will feature ex-Take That star and now solo artist Gary Barlow. The telephone card venture will be run in conjunction with News International Ltd’s News Of the World newspaper. Barlow will donate his 5% royalty of the retail price of the card to charity. The venture is being run with Vodaphone Ltd and UK discount telecoms firm First Telecom Plc, which specializes in cut price calling card services. The cards are pre-paid versions of standard calling cards, which hold an account number which is pre-credited with cash. First Telecom claims to be the cheapest UK service, and uses bandwidth on WorldCom Inc’s UK phone network. The venture promises to offer a range of intelligent network services, such as star-news update lines, and music by stars featured on the phone cards. If Clifford’s card venture fails to take off, there is the possibility that the cards will turn into collectors item, an Elvis Presley Phone card sold in the US recently for $400,000. Clifford has apparently got a number of other celebrities lined up, but is currently keeping his cards close to his chest.
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