CORPORATE & BUSINESS
OGILVY PR/LONDON AND OGILVYONE
THE GNOME EXPERIMENT
How do you reach more than 350 million people in 152 countries
with a business story about a precision scales manufacturer and
accuracy in measurement to achieve a sales uplift of 22%?
By combining a little known gravitational fact with a garden gnome
and creating the world's first mass participation gravity experiment.
BRIEF AND OBJECTIVES
Kern, a precision scales manufacturer, wanted to build its brand, differentiate itself
and grow market share within the science and education sectors.
However, with millions of schools and laboratories around the world to reach, Kern
faced the challenge of a highly commoditised marketplace and a disinterested
Ogilvy PR/London and OgilvyOne were challenged to deliver an engaging business
campaign that would affect behavioural change within the target audience,
encouraging them to recognise brand 'Kern' for the first time and make purchases
based on familiarity and preference.
Three key objectives were set:
1. Drive sales of scales to the education and science sectors by enhancing
Kern's brand visibility and preference amongst these key markets.
2. Generate conversations internationally around gravity's influence on weight
measurement – explaining the importance of Kern's USP - calibrating scales
for local gravity.
3. Raise awareness of Kern's reputation for accuracy within and beyond its
existing customer base - securing coverage outside of specialist media.
STRATEGY AND TACTICS
To give the public a reason to talk about Kern and 'accuracy in measurement' we set
out to make complex science accessible, harnessing Kern's gravitational calibration
After conducting in-depth research into education and science influencers, and
delving into scientific theories on weight and measurement, we conceived of the
Gnome Experiment – a global research project aimed at proving the scientific
theory that gravity varies from place to place affecting weight.
• Harness compelling science surrounding gravitational anomalies to engage
• Give Kern a personality that would speak to all media channels
• Transform the way Kern reaches buyers, targeting influencers via new
channels and encouraging interaction with the brand
• Go beyond traditional media, amplifying flagship coverage and developing
engaging sharable content
• Offer local stories anchored in international activity targeting territories
including; Switzerland, South Africa, the UK, the US, Canada etc. for physical
activity to spark local conversations yet attract international attention
In early 2012 we created of a chip proof garden gnome (also called Kern), providing
the campaign with a universally appealing personality. Gnomes are famed for their
love of travelling and originate from Bavaria, where Kern scales are manufactured. A
flight kit containing a set of Kern precision scales and the gnome was then circulated
between invited scientists and existing Kern customers globally. This provided
professional endorsement of the Gnome Experiment as individuals weighed the
gnome at their location before passing it on.
In March 2012 we initiated media and influencer engagement:
• We developed a blog and website (gnomeexperiment.com) to host
experiment results and directly engage volunteers and fans. Through these
channels, and across other social media, the gnome's own personality
emerged; scientifically irreverent
• Social media news releases targeting global media as well as science and
education influencers brought consumer and target business attention to
Gnomeexperiment.com – requesting volunteers and engaging millions
• We provided experiment participants with the tools to share their
involvement with local media and friends
• We shared content including travel snaps of the gnome, video and facts
about gravity to encourage further sharing
RESEARCH, PLANNING, MEASUREMENT AND EVALUATION
Our audience analysis (surveys, perceptions audit and analysis of Kern's historic sales
data) revealed; low brand recognition for laboratory grade balances, a highly
commoditised marketplace, no significant discussion of measurement and accuracy
outside of specialist titles, and few independent views on quality, reliability or
Recognising that Kern's targets represented a global audience, from school
teachers to Nobel scientists, we established that this extremely diverse group is
influenced by equally diverse sources, including friends, peers, and media. They are
highly active on-line; inquisitively seeking out, discussing and sharing information
they 'discover' from a host of influential and specialist cross-media sources.
Our creative use of little-known gravitational facts and a travelling gnome, brought
together academics, scientists and the media; sparking global conversations
through the world's first mass-participation gravity experiment.
Relation to objectives:
1. Drive sales: In only two weeks following the campaign launch Kern saw:
• Product sales to target groups increase by 22%
• 2,200 former customers get back in touch
• 1,445 new leads generated: 40% schools, 25% scientists
2. Generate conversations: Kern and its USP were debated amongst scholars,
scientists and the general public across all media. Its experiment increased global
understanding of the issues of gravity and weight measurement reaching an
audience of over 350 million. Corporate website visits increased 256% and Gnome
Experiment volunteers ranged from schoolchildren to internationally acclaimed
3. Raise awareness: Globally, people became enthralled by the Gnome Experiment
as it brought science to life. For the first time Kern drew the attention of popular
science publications, national newspapers, influential on-line publications, broadcast
news and social media. For example: New Scientist, Fox News, BBC, the Metro, Le
Monde, Straights Times and National Geographic, etc.
BUDGET AND COST EFFECTIVENESS
On a limited budget (£10,000), our campaign took Kern from laboratories and
schools into people's daily lives. Millions learned about gravity, tens of thousands
shared our content, and thousands volunteered to take part in the experiment.
Lauded by Oxford scholars and science geeks alike our campaign resulted in
schools incorporating Kern's experiment into lessons, a TED presentation, National
Geographic feature articles, and TV production companies around the world vying
to feature Kern in shows. Some key highlights:
Week One After Launch:
• 16,386 websites linked to Kern's GnomeExperiment.com
• News, science and education shows globally ran dedicated Kern segments
• GnomeExperiment.com saw 52,425 views, with a new participant enlisting
every 20 seconds
By Week Two:
• Coverage reached an audience in excess of 355,378,000
Analytics revealed coverage reached 152 countries
1042% ROI achieved based on new distributor sign-ups alone
Schools around the world added Kern's story to the curriculum
The experiment became a TED talk
The experiment continues… recently Kern's Gnome visited Newton's apple tree in
the company of BBC's Newsround, followed swiftly by a trip into earth's upper
atmosphere in NASA's zero-G flight trainer.
But that's nothing compared to his next adventure… Kern and his trusty scales will
be accompanying the Discovery Channel as feature characters in an entire science
series filmed all over the world – a priceless result for an earned media initiative.
View Kern's video on YouTube
WHAT DID THE JUDGES SAY?
This was a brilliant creative idea, but the campaign involved so much more. It was
also great value for money and exceptionally well executed. The agency evaluated
this well and they could show the benefit clearly to the business. The campaign
team, represented by the Account Director, were fluent and plausible on lead
generation supported by colourful anecdotes. Overall the judges felt that the
outcomes were spectacularly more than gnomic.
ROYAL MAIL GROUP
GOLD MEDAL STAMPS AND POSTBOXES
Royal Mail's Group Communication Team was tasked with
developing a consumer PR campaign to promote the Gold Medal
stamp programme for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic
Games. Royal Mail was a licensee for the Games, not a sponsor.
Gold Medal stamps, featuring shots of every GB winner were issued
the next day for the Olympics and within three days for the
• To promote Royal Mail's Gold Medal stamps programme for the London
2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
• To generate positive coverage for Royal Mail's involvement in London 2012.
• To ensure a legacy for RM's involvement in London 2012.
• Gain a greater share of voice in the media than any other UK sponsor, or the
sector-specific sponsor UPS
• Help drive sales of Royal Mail's Gold Medal stamps
• Ensure that the 2012 Paralympics received parity of esteem through
promotion of our Paralympics Gold Medal programme
STRATEGY AND TACTICS
• Detailed prior-planning at the highest level – our strategy was developed in
2011 and signed off at Chief Executive level
• Development of integrated communications plans to ensure rapid PR roll out
– to take advantage of the very short selling in window between medal wins
• Painting post boxes gold in the home town of winning athletes within 24
hours of victory, building on local pride and raising further awareness about
the stamp programme - the first time Royal Mail had ever done anything like
Making stamps available for the next day (during the Olympics) at 500 Post Offices
across the country, including in the winner's home towns. This was the first time
stamps had been supplied for sale so quickly.
Developing separate communications plans for the Paralympics to ensure parity of
esteem; RM was the first postal administration to produce Gold Medal Winners
stamps for the Paralympic games.
Normal lead-in time for Royal Mail special stamps is 24 months, but for London 2012
RM decided to produce stamps featuring shots of every GB winner rapidly – within
24 hours for Olympics and within three days – and often much quicker - for
RM decided to focus on a PR-driven campaign to boost sales of Gold Medal stamps,
a key revenue stream for RM. Royal Mail was a licensee for the Games rather an
official sponsor. The strategy included: a launch using celebrity Olympians, detailed
selling in prior to the Games targeting national, international, social and specialist
media; a dedicated local campaign targeting more than 200 local newspapers with
details of the local Post Offices which would be selling the Gold Medal stamps
within 24-hours; developing a 24-hour Olympics PR team so that each stamp image
could be circulated to all media within 120 minutes of a win, and painting a post box
gold in each winner's home or training town, to provide broadcast and picture
Implementation involved dedicated circulation lists for media to receive the stamp
image and a press release; the location of the gold post box, and an enlargement of
the stamp printed and couriered to key broadcasters - all within two hours of the win
ensuring that selling opportunities were maximised even during the short window
before the next gold medal.
RM provided B-roll footage to broadcasters of each stamp being printed, and of
post boxes being painted. Social media was a key channel, especially so because of
the tight timescales; a new channel @royalmailnews was established and new
creative content developed for existing channels, @royalmailstamps and our
A new website, www.goldpostboxes.com was built to encourage public interaction
where they could view and map the latest gold post box and upload their own
photos. Marketing support for the campaign also included rapid deployment of next
day adverts including banner ads in national print and online, and cross track
advertising at key London Tube stations.
We ensured that politicians and key opinion formers were informed of our activity. In
the months following the Games, the Gold Medal stamps and gold post boxes
continued to attract local and national coverage. This included an announcement in
November 2012 that all the gold post boxes were to remain permanently gold,
ensuring we have become part of the London 2012 legacy.
The campaign generated a number of historic firsts for Royal Mail – which resulted in
sensational levels of positive media coverage.
It was the first time:
• Royal Mail had painted its iconic red post boxes a different colour to mark an
• Any Postal Administration had produced stamps featuring an image of every
Paralympic gold medal winner for the host nation
• Any postal administration had produced an image of the winner from the final
• Royal Mail had made stamps available within 24 hours; many Post Offices
opened on Sunday to ensure stamps marking Saturday Golds could be sold
the next day
The gold post boxes became an integral part of our campaign in raising awareness
of the Gold Medal stamps. As well as providing a plethora of PR opportunities, they
helped us tap into the local pride communities felt towards their athletes. The post
boxes became tourist attractions, with people queuing to have their photos with
them, but helped drive our story online, with people uploading their photos onto
Our campaign became recognised as part of the London 2012 event to the extent
that Royal Mail was the only non-sponsor invited to join the victory parade in London
on September 12 – where 40 Postmen and women carried banners featuring our
stamps, in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators and a TV audience of
Our stamps and gold post boxes became seen by many athletes and commentators
as part of the event – notably rowing gold medalist Katharine Copeland, who
commented "the first thing I said on crossing the line was, 'We've just won — we're
going to be on a stamp." Gary Lineker presented several of the athletes with
enlargements of their stamps on live Olympics broadcasts; many were
photographed at Team GB house with enlargements of their stamps.
Our engagement with political stakeholders was such that even the Prime Minister,
and the Mayor of London, was among those publicly quoted praising Royal Mail's
campaign. David Cameron said: "Royal Mail has had an excellent Olympic Games.
They've produced these stamps; they are painting the pill boxes. I don't know who is
doing the thinking for them but I think they've been really on the ball so why not
Henley? Very good idea." The First Ministers for Scotland and Wales presented their
nation's athletes with their gold medal stamps. We also displayed enlargements of
gold medal stamps in Parliament, Holyrood and Cardiff as well as the British
Business Embassy at Lancaster House throughout the Games.
RELATION TO OBJECTIVES AND COST EFFECTIVENESS
Objective 1 - Gain greater positive coverage than any UK or sector-sponsor. In fact
we achieved more than the UK sponsors (and UPS ) combined with audience reach
of more than 700 million, 99% positive coverage; on many occasions during the
Olympics, Royal Mail had more Olympic related mentions on Twitter than official
sponsors Coca-Cola, Adidas, Visa, British Airways, UPS and Cisco.
Objective 2 – Support sale of Gold medal stamps. We more than doubled our
stamps sales target; 'Gold Medal stamps was our top key message, with a reach of
around 500 million.
Objective 3 – Parity of esteem for the Paralympics. Royal Mail's PR campaign
continued to be one of the most high profile during the Paralympics. Our tactics
remained the same and our level of coverage continued to be extremely high.
Royal Mail work closely with its retained agencies Eulogy! and Blonde for external
communications and content for social media.
WHAT DID THE JUDGES SAY?
This is an excellent example of a collaborative effort between all parties in this
campaign, where the in-house team and supporting agencies all played their part.
This was undertaken with military-like precision, involving high risk and a number of
logistical challenges following a simple, yet killer idea. It was a great example of
public relations that stamped its mark amongst a congested media landscape,
engaged public opinion and captivated communities across the nation, spawning
the next generation of stamp collectors.
AND BEST USE OF RESEARCH, PLANNING,
MEASUREMENT & EVALUATION
CHANNEL4 PRESS & PUBLICITY/PITCH PR
THE LONDON 2012 PARALYMPIC GAMES ON
Channel 4 won the rights to the London 2012 Paralympic Games in
2010. We were faced with a media unfamiliar with Paralympic sport,
nervous about covering disability and unsure of our ability to deliver
a successful broadcast. Only a fraction of the public could name a
Paralympian and just 14% of the population said they were looking
forward to the Games. Working with Pitch PR, we ran an innovative,
challenging campaign; transforming the landscape over two years
and shifting editorial coverage from the margins to the mainstream.
• Position the London 2012 Paralympic Games as one of the largest broadcast
events of 2012 and the biggest event in Channel 4's history
• Engage the UK media early and move coverage for Paralympic sport from the
margins to the mainstream
• Prepare the ground for a the biggest, loudest marketing campaign in the
Channel's history (Thanks for the Warm Up and Meet the Superhumans)
• Sustain momentum from the Olympics and direct public interest towards
Channel 4's Paralympic coverage
• Reinforce Channel4's long-standing identity as an innovator prepared to
challenge perceptions, break new boundaries and provide a voice for the
• Bring about a shift in public attitudes to disability
We needed to reach the UK public at large and drive an audience to Channel 4. To
achieve this, our primary targets were the editors, columnists and correspondents
across UK media whose confidence and support was essential if we were to deliver
the publicity needed as the 'other' broadcaster of London 2012.
Education (2010-early 2012):
• Engage specialist agency support to complement in-house team and help
navigate opinionated, powerful sporting media (Pitch PR)
• Develop regular dialogue with Paralympic editorial team at C4 to ensure
promotional opportunities of output maximised
• Summer 2010 press conference to launch £500k initiative to search for new
disabled Paralympic presenters
• Roll out publicity for That Paralympic Show, Inside Incredible Athletes and the
BT Paralympic World Cup
Excitement (January 2012-July 2012):
• Press launch event hosted by comic Adam Hills (unveiled as presenter for
round up show The Last Leg). Full line up of new disabled talent and LEXI
decoder system announced
• Roadshow to offices of key TV listing, consumer and feature media
• Commission bespoke photography of athletes and presenters to secure
widespread covers and features
• Prepare comprehensive crisis comms plan with buy in from key stakeholders
(including LOCOG, IPC and BPA)
Anticipation (July/August 2012 – Olympics and transition to Paralympics):
• Sell in Meet the Superhumans campaign launch
• Roll out C4 presenters, athletes and executives to generate excitement and
anticipation for Paralympics
• One-to-one briefings with each national sports editors
• Lobby TV listings media to ensure no drop off of coverage after the Olympics
as other channels launch new shows
• Support editorial-led 'paid for' supplements in key nationals and regionals to
further engage national press, building profile for LEXI decoder system and
Reputation (during and post-Games):
• Place presenter columns in broadsheet press – adding credibility to C4
coverage and locking in the allegiance of key newspapers to new talent
• Amplify viewing figures and commission research to drive reputational impact
• Celebrate – host more than 60 non-sport journalists at the Games – bringing
the campaign to life and bring media on side
Increased media engagement, awareness and understanding:
• Paralympic coverage moved from the margins to the mainstream
• All 11 key messages for the Channel's coverage delivered successfully across
more than 500 pieces of national media, particularly increase in hours of
broadcast coverage over BBC in 2008 and investment in new disabled talent
• Editors on all papers reintroduced special features run during the Olympics
e.g. comment columns, wraparound covers for The Times, double cover for
Radio Times thanks to challenges from C4
• Unprompted awareness of the Paralympics moved from 16% in July to 77%
on the eve of the Games
Impact and critical reputation of marketing amplified:
• Seeding and sell-in ahead of Meet the Superhumans TV ad premiere
roadblock delivered reputational editorial coverage alongside rollout of
• Ensured BBC broadcast 40-second cut during The One Show, persuaded
Public Enemy to use creative during performance at SW4 festival ahead of
Games and ultimately led to re-release, top 5 chart position and air-play of
Harder than you Think soundtrack)
• 'Superhumans' terminology adopted prominently in headlines and editorial
C4 innovations and talent adopted by national media:
• C4's distinctive LEXI decoder adopted across national media to explain
• First-person columns secured in national media for key new talent – including
Metro, Guardian, Independent and Times
Record viewing figures for Paralympic sport:
• Coverage peaked with 11.6m viewers for opening ceremony coverage and
each day broke new records for live Paralympic sport coverage2
• Output reached 39.9m (69% of the population), which not only exceeded our
35m target but was a 251% increase on the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.2
• Grew @C4Paralympics from 3k followers in Jan 2012 to 120k during Games
Attitudinal shift beyond viewing figures:
• Humour encouraged media to engage with disability – Adam Hills
introducing the then Minister for Disability Maria Miller at our press launch as
"The Minister for Mutants" prompted supportive social media reaction, print
comment and reinforced C4's unique approach). The Daily Mail sports
column hailed the launch as 'better than the BBC's'
• 65% of viewers felt TV coverage had a favourable impact on their perceptions
towards people with disabilities3
• 56% of viewers felt C4 coverage made them more comfortable talking about
1. Weekly online survey, C4
2. Barb consolidated viewing figures
3. BDRC Continental daily survey for C4
Channel4 changed perceptions of disability in the UK, attracted a record-breaking
audience, affirmed its public service remit and succeeded in delivering a commercial
return. The positive reception to our bid to broadcast Rio 2016 is further evidence of
ROI for delivering successfully on our PR objectives.
WHAT DID THE JUDGES SAY?
In a closely fought contest, showcasing some standout work, it was considered that
Channel 4 and Pitch provided the very best examples of delivering and controlling
public relations within a bigger integrated campaign. The breadth of positive
coverage for a broadcaster in untested waters, in a year when other tournaments
could have overshadowed it, was in itself an achievement of clear strategic thinking
and media relations. But the impact the coverage had in helping drive a genuine
attitudinal shift of public perception to the Paralympics, whilst staying true to the
brand values of Channel 4, gave it the winning edge in this category.
WHAT DID THE JUDGES SAY? (BEST USE OF RESEARCH, PLANNING,
MEASUREMENT & EVALUATION)
On the back of the euphoria of the London 2012 Olympic games, it was not obvious
that the Paralympics was going to be well supported and followed. With research
showing that 14% of the population were looking forward to the games, Channel 4's
use of research to support its planning, strategy and roll out to impressive results
stood out for the judges as the award winner in this category. The judges found the
research to be highly integrated into this campaign, with lots of creativity, applying it
to messaging and activities, and delivering stunning results against their own
targets. Importantly, post research indicating attitude change specifically linked to
what Channel 4 did, showing a direct connection to a definitive outcome.
UNITY/CANCER RESEARCH UK
R UV UGLY?
Despite new legislation banning under-18s from sunbeds, many
were still visiting salons to achieve 'that glow'. Spurred on by
celebrity obsession – and demonstrated vividly on programmes such
as The Only Way Is Essex (TOWIE) - youth's affair with tanning
showed no sign of easing with the rise of tan monikers such as the
'Ibiza Splash' and 'Orangatan' demonstrating cultural relevance.
Yet, research worryingly showed that using a sunbed for the first
time before the age of 35 increases the risk of malignant melanoma
– the most serious form of skin cancer - by 75 percent.
• engage 16-24 year old female CD2E's and a secondary audience of older
'influencers' (those allowing or encouraging sunbed use), largely - but not
exclusively - in the North
• reduce sunbed use.
STRATEGY AND TACTICS
With an appearance obsessed audience – prone to switching off to health
messaging and seemingly invincible - we focused on a pure-play vanity message –
that using a sunbed would make them look old before their time.
It was key that we didn't make the tan the enemy (the war on this was lost), but
rather show they could still get 'the look', but without the health threat.
We borrowed from text speak, and came up with R UV UGLY? - leveraging the 'UV'
in sunbeds and posing a question we could then answer. By placing UV skin
scanning cameras at the heart of our campaign we could graphically show what
lurked beneath the skin. We were giving them an opportunity to see the damage
already done - and therefore the very real risk of melanoma. To an audience
obsessed with appearance we knew this would be irresistible, which a focus group
By teaming up with the UK's leading skin clinic, sk:n, to offer free skin assessments,
we were able to remove the cost barrier, personalise the risk through individual
consultations and also, with 37 clinics nationwide, make them accessible to the
Importantly, channeling findings from our focus group, we offered everyone 'twofor-none' vouchers, meaning they could share the experience with a friend, or an
older family member (our secondary audience) could accompany their young
A pre and post questionnaire was also created for completion in-clinic, enabling us
to gather vital data. And by teaming up with celebrity fake tan brand Vita Liberata
(secured for free), we also offered all participants safer alternatives to sunbeds.
With programmes such as TOWIE and Made in Chelsea fuelling the tanning
obsession, we felt it was key to engage these influencers and get their help to
position fake tan as a viable alternative.
Secured talent (for free) included Binky Felstead (Made in Chelsea), Maria Fowler
and Sam & Billie Faiers (TOWIE), Gemma Merna (Hollyoaks), Kym Marsh (Coronation
Street) and singer Paloma Faith. We promoted their involvement through interview
placements, placed skin assessments (very brave!) and by encouraging them to
tweet to drive fans to the Facebook voucher page.
To take the campaign, digitally, to where the audience hung out, we created a
bespoke Facebook tab as a campaign hub. It contained information, a video of
tanning tips featuring Made in Chelsea's Binky, and – importantly – a text/email
voucher mechanic to claim their 'two for none'. This simple addition ensured the
campaign worked with how this Blackberryobsessed audience lives their lives.
Binky's film was also seeded widely.
Other influencers – namely other young people – were also secured / placed as case
studies alongside the vouchers. Success included a DPS feature in The Sun.
The campaign was also supported with a 'digital photobooth' campaign in
Manchester and Newcastle, which produced UV as well as normal, passport photos.
Supporting media relations drove footfall and participants got to take away their R
UV UGLY? photocard and fake tan product.
Supporting this, were two news stories designed to make sunbed dangers a national
talking point. The first focused on how friends / family were inadvertently putting
their loved-ones lives at risk (hitting our secondary audience).Then, building on the
vanity angle, we persuaded the nations largest model agencies (Next, IMG, Premier
etc) to agree a cross agency ban on sunbed use.
With models being key influencers, we launched the story during London Fashion
Week, and stole the limelight with extensive coverage including the front page of
the Metro and live broadcasts on BBC Breakfast, Five News and Sky News.
Coverage was also secured in female orientated online and youth focused
programmes including Radio 1 Newsbeat.
Many model agencies tweeted the news to our dedicated #RUVUGLY hashtag which
led to further influential tweets from the likes of Nicola Roberts. Finally, the model
story went global with Al Jazeera picking up on it and Australian model agencies
Overall we achieved widespread online chatter, primarily from one of the biggest UK
beauty blogs and also via national news outlets including @SkyNews and
@TelegraphFashion. We encouraged all users to include bespoke, trackable links to
our Facebook tab to ensure the voucher download process was simple.
RESEARCH, PLANNING, MEASUREMENT, EVALUATION, COSTEFFECTIVENESS
Overall 75% of sunbed users who, before the scan, said they expected to use
sunbeds more or the same in the future, changed their minds immediately after their
scan and said they expected to use them less or not at all.
Immediately after the scan, half of the sunbed users aged under 25 said they would
not use sunbeds in the future compared to 22% who had said this before the scan.
Via a follow-up survey conducted eight weeks after the campaign closed, we were
able to measure sustained behaviour change, demonstrated by 46% of respondents
reporting they'd stopped using sunbeds or used sunbeds less than they did before.
We smashed client KPIs at below their target cost of £1.50 per engagement and
delivered independently-verified changes in behaviour.
R UV UGLY? has been revived in 2013.
WHAT DID THE JUDGES SAY?
This was an extremely well evidenced and tested campaign with a clear strategy and
implementation plan. The campaign combined intelligent use of celebrities and
innovation, particularly in addressing vanity rather than health, in order to connect
with a hard-to-reach audience. It has already shown the potential to create a longterm change in attitudes with beneficial effects for both the target audience and
BEST USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
TORFAEN COUNTY BOROUGH COUNCIL
IN THE DEPOT
Severe winter weather poses a huge reputational risk for local
government, as vital services face widespread disruption. However,
it also provides an opportunity to enhance the reputation of public
services through engaging communications. This was at the heart of
Torfaen Council's 'In the Depot' campaign.
• To weave key 'sticky' messages from our winter maintenance strategy into a
funny, creative, informative video that would be shared at least 500 times and
achieve 3000 views
• For Torfaen's social media community to feel well informed about the
disruption caused by the winter weather
• To showcase the work of local government gritters during the snow with 5
pieces of local media coverage and 3 pieces of national media coverage
• To increase positive perception of local government by encouraging 1000
positive/supportive online comments from citizens
• To increase Torfaen's social media influence and reach by increasing our
Facebook following by 20 per cent
• To have a positive influence on online mentions about Torfaen during the
Our crisis communications strategy focuses on being first, fast and accurate with
news; placing digital channels at the heart of our communications and proactively
seeking media opportunities to highlight the work of frontline workers.
Analysis and research of our most frequent social media comments and queries from
the public during a snow crisis highlighted the following:
• People expect all residential roads to be gritted
• People rarely see the roads being gritted as it takes place through the night
• Social media users expect up to the minute street--‐level information on
Therefore our strategy focused on:
• Using digital channels to make a high level, complex winter maintenance
strategy easy to understand
• To highlight the work of the council's gritting team
• Providing an around the clock communications service using social media
Content and timing
Adding humour to such a high profile issue meant pushing the boundaries of
traditional local government communications. With no budget available, a script and
a storyboard 'In the Depot' was prepared in an hour, and we secured the free
services of a well-known local Elvis tribute. Timeliness was critical meaning the video
was recorded in an hour on Friday and went live on Monday.
An online buzz
We engaged with local and national bloggers and online influencers including
weather presenters, journalists and government ministers. Their endorsements
fuelled the online buzz and this was sustained with local and national PR/public
affairs activity. We also ensured the film was shared with employees - our most
valuable local advocates.
Well informed citizens
Positive sentiment was maintained during the crisis and in the days that followed, by
a constant flow of timely local updates around the clock.
Research, planning, measurement and evaluation
Two pieces of research shaped our planning:
1. People are increasingly using Torfaen's digital channels as their primary source for
information during a crisis.
2. Topical video is our most engaging form of social media content
This knowledge made us focus on online video as the focal point for the campaign.
• A viral video - In the Depot was viewed 350,000 times in ten days, receiving
more than 500 positive comments on YouTube alone
• Torfaen's Facebook page had 226 updates on service disruption - receiving
7138 'likes', 3421 shares and reached 59,000 people in a week, an increase of
• There were 170 snow tweets from @torfaencouncil providing latest
information, attracting 300 new followers
• The snow page on Torfaen Council website was updated 115 times in a week,
achieved 100,000+ views
• 24 press releases/media invitations were issued achieving daily take up by the
• In the Depot was trending as YouTube's second most popular video at the
peak of the snow disruption and was shared 1757 times.
• The video was 'shared' 30,390 times on Facebook, including Radio 2 and
YouTube's pages, and received 30,306 Facebook likes and 14, 754 positive
• The video was shared 2800 times on Twitter including targeted influencers
such as weather presenters, journalists, bloggers, media outlets and
Full house of media coverage including:
• TV - Sky News, BBC News, ITV News, Channel 4, BBC Wales, BBC WM, the
• Radio: Radio 2 news plus Steve Wright viral video of the day, Radio Five Live,
Radio Six, Radio Wales, Real Radio
• Press articles in Daily Mirror, Daily Star, Independent, Telegraph, Western
Mail, South Wales Argus, Free Press, Big Issue as well as local government
specialist press (The MJ)
• Online: All the main news websites including Huffington Post and as far afield
as Sky News Australia, blogs included the Independent, Comms2Point0 and
fan forums from Elvis tributes to football clubs. Also featured in the
Guardian's Viral Videos of the Week.
• Huge Community impact/reach: It was sung on a local rugby terrace within a
week of launch
• Messages of congratulations/praise from ex-pats in Jamaica, Australia,
Canada and USA
• UK Highways Agency hosted video on their website while UK Resilience cited
it as best practice social media use
• Councils from Aberdeen to Bournemouth shared the video with residents and
The campaign exceed all its objectives:
• A post-snow survey of social media followers revealed 97% of were better
informed about council activities during the snow
• Positive online sentiment for local government was achieved through 17,200
positive comments, praising Torfaen Council
• In the Depot video and its key messages received 32,938 'likes' and 34,947
'shares' and has had 465,000
• Torfaen's online influence has increased with Facebook followers rising by
65% to over 5000
• The work of council gritters was showcased through 20 unique pieces of
positive national media coverage and eight articles in Welsh media.
BUDGET AND COST EFFECTIVENESS
It cost nothing - only staff time - even Elvis gave up his time for free. The work of
local government workers in Torfaen (population 90,000) was seen in a positive light
by millions of people on a national and international stage.
And to top it all off, before Vegas comes calling, we've signed up Elvis for our big
WHAT DID THE JUDGES SAY?
The Torfaen team turned around a brilliantly executed social media campaign within
six days because they had built up trust with internal decision makers. They used
social channels effectively to create and distribute a simple message and generated
engagement, local goodwill, regional and national print and broadcast media
coverage. The Elvis video was the creative (and humorous) glue. It's a valuable asset
that can be used in the future. The legacy of the campaign is that they can now
reach their audiences with more harder hitting subjects, such as local vandalism,
with excellent results and response.
Propel Technology is a specialist PR and marketing communications agency which
helps clients in the automotive, motorsport, energy and research sectors increase
sales and build reputations. As one of the most respected PR consultancies in
automotive and motorsport technology, we aim to expand into complementary
sectors and to achieve a turnover of approximately £3 million by 2023.
DATE OF INCORPORATION
March 1, 2010.
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES
Our first three years have seen rapid growth. Between 2011 and 2013, (account)
directors, Nick Bailey and Claire Dumbreck were joined by a senior account
executive, account executive and a junior account executive. We are currently
recruiting for a sixth position of account manager to meet growing demand.
Business objectives and analysis of performance against budget over the past three
Propel Technology has exceeded its business projections for each of the three
years, with turnover increasing 48 and 23 percent in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
OVERVIEW OF BUSINESS / TEAM STRATEGY
Over the past three years, Propel Technology's PR offering has grown to include
social media and marketing communications project management services covering
newsletters, websites, advertising, brochures and videos etc. Our strategy is to
package and develop our 'virtual PR and marketing department' offer to mediumsized businesses. This is a need – particularly among the engineer-led organisations
in the business-to-business environments in which we work – that we understand
well and for which we see great potential.
SUMMARY OF RECENT OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENTS, INCLUDING CLIENT
LIST GROWTH / RETENTION
Our revenue is growing dramatically from increased retainers and new business
wins. We acquired two three-year contracts to provide UK media relations with
multinational firms, Allison Transmission Inc. and Viessmann. We are also the lead
agency for Allison's international pan-agency network.
Five clients – Cruden, Zircotec, MMR Research Worldwide, Autofarm and Falken
Tyre Europe – have each renewed and increased their annual contracts within the
past six months, mostly due to the upselling of services. Most client work now has an
international media relations element, reflecting our growing media network.
In 2012, we trialled a USA trade media campaign for a client. We now represent
them in North America and they increased their retainer by 20 percent.
An example of a campaign you are particularly proud of, including details of the
brief, objectives, strategy and tactics, outputs, outcomes and budget.
In 2011, The Gatherer Partnership, brought us in to launch a new medical device that
used Formula 1 technology to measure musculoskeletal forces, by building
awareness among physiotherapists and insurance companies. We recognised the
need for a human angle and identified a professional horse rider, who had been
successfully treated by the technology's inventor for a broken neck.
We achieved national coverage, including the daily newspapers and a BBC Breakfast
studio interview. We tied this into the topical subject of spurious whiplash injury
claims, which resulted in enquiries from insurance companies. Much of the work to
identify a device for objectively measuring such injury is still ongoing and our client's
technology is being evaluated. It has already been used in a court case. We also
targeted the health, medical and trade publications for physiotherapists, inviting the
journalists to a specialist spinal rehabilitation hospital to see the technology in
action, securing in-depth features on the business opportunities for medical
practices. The campaign budget was £10,000.
Frank Kalff, commercial director, Cruden B.V:
Propel Technology has worked for three years as our fully outsourced PR and
marketing communications department. This works fantastically, even though we are
not in the same country. We are constantly impressed with their deep knowledge of
the motorsport and automotive sectors, bringing us new sales leads and editorial
opportunities. Furthermore, they have helped us grow our business into new
Our account director is also my sparring partner for business strategy development.
She not only executes the PR, she also understands our business. What I value most
is that Propel Technology is proactive; they take care of the agenda, without having
to be poked.
Terry Graham, managing director, Zircotec Ltd:
We selected Propel Technology to be our PR partner because of their reputation,
focus and market knowledge. I have been hugely impressed by their ability to
deliver results within the motorsport and automotive sector. I continue to be
impressed by their customer focus, their ability to provide value adding input to our
PR strategy and by their ability to deliver. They have supported our growth plan for
nearly three years, providing industry insight that has firmly established Zircotec as a
trusted brand in both the trade and consumer media.
WHAT MAKES US A SPECIAL EMPLOYER
We promote the success of our company and team. We won Best New Business at
the Banbury Women in Business Awards and senior account executive, Judy Collins,
was recently nominated for, and won, Banbury Employee of the Year.
We are told by our employees who have had internships at other, larger agencies
that we offer unrivalled opportunities to develop new skills, contribute creative ideas
and to work autonomously and more directly with clients which allows them to
progress their careers in PR more rapidly.
We encourage and reward high performance as shown with the promotion of one
member of staff within six months of joining the company.
The directors put aside considerable time to coach staff, particularly in technical
article writing. We encourage staff to take ownership of their own training needs.
One employee researched options and training providers to help with her specific
writing problems and has just negotiated and designed her own three-session, oneto-one article writing course with a local, former journalist.
On completion of a probation period, the company encourages, and funds, each
employee to join the CIPR. We provide time off and financial assistance, where
appropriate, to allow them to acquire the credits necessary to eventually become
WHAT DID THE JUDGES SAY?
Propel Technology has established a specialist public relations reputation in
automotive and motorsport technology and is expanding into complementary
sectors. With expertise drawn from the founders' diverse backgrounds of
engineering and corporate communications, Propel has established a distinctive
positioning. The combination of technical knowledge, industry contacts and
professional communications skills, provides a focused offering that will be hard to
rival. Propel Technology is a genuine consultancy, not just a bolt-on public relations
offering. The enthusiasm, ambition and sheer drive of the founders helped single
them out as the Outstanding Small Consultancy of the Year.
OUTSTANDING IN-HOUSE TEAM
TRANSPORT FOR LONDON
BUSINESS OBJECTIVES AND ANALYSIS OF TEAM PERFORMANCE AGAINST
Transport for London (TfL) is the capital's integrated transport authority, chaired by
the Mayor of London, with an annual budget circa £9bn. Our goal is to deliver
transport that secures London as a world-leading city, making life in the capital
better, keeping it working and supporting economic development and growth.
The TfL Press Office handles PR and media relations in-house and we're rarely out of
the public eye. Innovative and effective PR strategies support:
• 27 million daily journeys on road and public transport;
• a multi-billion pound investment and upgrade of the capital's roads and rails;
• major behaviour change campaigns to increase cycling, cut teenage road
deaths and promote Safer Travel At Night (CABWISE).
Operating on a budget of £2.3m, our performance is monitored through demanding
KPIs for positive and balanced coverage and key message delivery, plus specific
campaign targets. Over the past three years we have exceeded all KPIs and are on
course for 2012-13.
The annual IPSOS MORI Journalist Survey analyses PR performance in the transport
and aviation industry (public and private sectors). It consistently ranks us in the top
• pro-actively providing quality news items of genuine interest;
• trusting journalists in an open and honest relationship;
• speedy response;
• easy access to top executives.
TfL's brand momentum is at an all-time high and London Underground was named
one of the most improved brands of 2012 by YouGov's BrandIndex.
OVERVIEW OF BUSINESS / TEAM STRATEGY
Our mission is to promote TfL's activities and achievements and defend our
• Proactively making the case for continued investment in London's transport
network, supporting economic development and growth;
• Demonstrating TfL is an innovative and efficient organisation, delivering best
possible value for fare and taxpayers' money;
• Developing and delivering innovative PR campaigns using all channels, inc.
digital and social media, that reach all Londoners;
• Dealing professionally with incidents on and off network and managing crisis
communications effectively at all times.
We engage across all sectors and platforms from international to consumer and
trade, including broadcast, print, digital and social media and have an established
in-house film unit to support web and digital campaigns.
ANNUAL PUBLIC RELATIONS BUDGET
Total annual budget: £2.3m;
Campaign activation: Circa £130k a year.
NUMBER OF STAFF EMPLOYED
33, including Director of News, two Chief Press Officers, administrative support,
performance and monitoring.
A SUMMARY OF RECENT OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENTS
• Supported a great London 2012 Games, achieving 35% change in journey
patterns at key stations (with 92% of coverage positive or balanced);
• Launched Barclays Cycle Hire and Emirates Air Line;
• Promoted London Overground services, regularly rated best in the UK;
• Promoted Oyster and introduced contactless payments on London's buses;
• Campaigns that have seen continued reductions in cab-related sexual
• Managed media impact from major organisational change at London
• Campaigned for Crossrail funding and ensured protection for Tube upgrades
in Government's Comprehensive Spending Review;
• Negotiated and managed 'The Tube' six part BBC documentary series;
• Continued cuts to teen road safety deaths and serious injuries, ahead of
• Celebrating 150th Anniversary of London Underground.
On 30 July 2010, TfL launched Barclays Cycle Hire, a 24-hour public bicycle sharing
scheme, a key manifesto pledge of Mayor Boris Johnson. The brief was to
encourage the public to incorporate cycle hire into their daily journeys. PR was
central to communicating how to register, use cycle hire and do so safely, at launch
• Create awareness and excitement up to and beyond launch
• 75% awareness post-launch;
• 150,000 members by July 2011;
• Encourage community ownership; making Cycle Hire part of London life;
• Communicate 'how to use';
• Help tackle barriers to cycling for lapsed cyclists, e.g. safety.
Strategy and tactics
• Phased approach to build awareness, interest and drive action, combating
• Target London, national and international media, focusing on existing /
potential cyclists, Londoners, commuters, leisure users and tourists;
• Briefings, overseas visits, events, VNRs, films and bike trials generated
massive media and Londoner interest;
• Post go-live, protected reputation through incident management and
Outputs and outcomes
• 93 % of launch coverage positive or balanced;
• 137,000 members by July 2011 (over 175,000 by October 2012);
• Close to 20 million journeys by February 2013;
• 6 in 10 trips replace existing public transport journey;
• 80% of users agreed it increased amount of cycling they do (IPSOS/MORI);
• 95% of respondents agreed it makes positive contribution to London
• Attracting new cyclists – 6 in 10 users had taken up cycling in last three
months (Oct 2010);
• 73% of Londoners think the bikes are best way to beat rush hour (YouGov Oct
• Awareness rose from 37% pre-launch (Mar 2010) to 82% post-launch,
increasing to 87% in inner London (Synovate tracking, Dec 2010).
£106k allocated, £60k spent.
WHAT MAKES US SPECIAL AS A PUBLIC RELATIONS TEAM?
We're determined to represent the city we serve – dynamic, innovative, diverse and
resilient. Like London, our team blends cultures, backgrounds and ages, harbouring
a wealth of knowledge and experience from PR and journalism to frontline transport
But that didn't happen by accident. Aware that diversity is a challenge for the PR
industry, since 2006, we have proudly run a PR internship scheme offering bursaries
to graduates from BAME communities. We believe it's a benchmark for the entire PR
industry, but are also proud that virtually all 'graduates' have gone on to further their
careers in PR, including within the TfL Press Office.
Undoubtedly our biggest challenge has been the London 2012 Games – the
greatest logistical challenge a nation can undertake in peacetime. A truly integrated
PR and communications campaign was planned and delivered over 18 months,
including the Get Ahead of the Games consumer campaign from January 2012.
During the Games, we literally worked night and day to support a truly great London
2012 Games and keep London moving and open for business.
In July, 48% of Londoners thought TfL would manage transport during the Games
'quite' or 'very well'. In September, it was a massive 94%.