Connect was launched on target despite initial adverse reaction from retailers. The Retail Consortium waged a campaign on behalf of its members who objected to the pricing structure but an agreement was soon reached. Many retailers saw Barclays Connect as a dangerous precedent and a pre-cursor of a new generation of current account cards.
This caution may have been justified as the one millionth card was issued just nine months after its initial launch and by May 1996, five million cards had been issued.
The original advertising campaign for Connect had to be abandoned due to the initial controversy, despite months of planning. The TV commercial eventually adopted was based on a ‘Pathe News’ item and was put together in just one week. Pre-launch advertising concentrated on the ‘cat out of the bag’ theme which was ironic as a leak to the press in October 1986 had forewarned the public of the launch of the UK’s first debit card.
At the original press launch Owen Rout, UK Executive Director, commented: