Fresh eyes

Freshfield’s favourite PR moments of 2015

Freshfields favourite PR moments of 2015
Simon Turner Freshfield Managing Director

Written by Simon Turner,
Chief Executive & Group Client Director at Freshfield

Almost every year is a vintage one when it comes to picking examples of successful PR campaigns (and PR gaffes for that matter, but we won’t mention those!). Members of the Freshfield PR team share their favourite examples of good PR from across the UK in 2015.

Sport England proves ‘This Girl Can’

The This Girl Can campaign was developed by Sport England to get more women involved in sports and to celebrate active women across the county who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it or what they look like when they’re doing it.

It’s a great example of how successful a campaign can be when people can resonate with it. So many women have a genuine connection with the TV advert which shows women going for it and getting hot and sweaty. The campaign caught people’s attention on social media too with its #thisgirlcan hashtag – helping to spread the message far and wide.

The campaign went live at the start of the year – the perfect time to get the message across in the New Year as resolutions were being made. And even now, almost a full year on, women are using the hashtag to share their workout goals and achievements daily.

By Laura Wild


Diabetes UK influences health minister (with help from Alan Partridge)

I was impressed with the Diabetes UK campaign which used a video clip of Alan Partridge’s infamous ‘Dan!’ sketch to persuade health minister Dan Poulter to end fines for people with diabetes for claiming free prescriptions. It was a very simple idea that worked.

The video was viewed more than 1,000 times, the Facebook post reached 40,000 people and the tweet was viewed 8,300 times, with many celebrities lending their support. More importantly, within hours the government changed its rules on medical exemption certificates. A great modern lobbying job.

By Simon Turner


Alzheimer’s Society uses emotion to target Dementia Friends

This was a successful multi-channel campaign including a series of TV adverts led by the theme ‘I get by with a little help from my friends’ sung by a former nurse who has been diagnosed with dementia, and joined by a host of celebrities.

The campaign launched on the back of government research showing that 87% of businesses would consider letting carers work flexible hours, and the need for more information about dementia.

High impact, personal, with a powerful message. It worked, and is still working in getting the message through for people to sign up to the Dementia Friends groups locally in their communities and in raising awareness for businesses to support carers.

By Paul Tustin


Asda stands out by ‘cancelling’ Black Friday

The media has become obsessed with Britain’s recent adoption of the Black Friday phenomenon, where retailers offer “huge discounts” on the last Friday in November. But after Black Friday 2014 was marred by scenes of people scrapping in the aisles over televisions, there are signs people are tiring of it with many backing the ‘Buy Nothing Day’ counter offensive.

So, when I heard Asda CEO, Andy Clarke, on the radio explaining the reasons why the supermarket would not be participating in Black Friday this year, I had to doff my hat. You see Black Friday is all about tempting shoppers with heavy discounts for one day only, whereas Asda, explained Mr Clarke, works hard to offer customers great value throughout the year.

It said it made the decision after listening to what customers wanted, so why risk alienating them and damaging the brand?

The simple way this decision was communicated, with Mr Clarke giving interviews to a number of national media to explain the reasons, was spot on and chimed with Asda’s overall brand strategy of ‘saving you money every day’. Asda has now invested in lowering prices on a wide number of items throughout the Christmas period, something it has promoted well on social media using its #becauseitschristmas hashtag.

By Andrew Taylor


Met Office asks public to ‘Name Our Storms’

Until the early 1950s, tropical storms and hurricanes in America were tracked only by date until a new naming system was introduced. In 2015 this was adopted by the Met Office in the UK as a way of raising awareness of severe weather and ensuring greater public safety.

Little did we know that the decision would provide such a talking point. It seems we respond better when we think of these powerful weather events as beings. People took to Twitter in their droves to #nameourstorms. No more anonymous winds ripping off our roof tiles and battering our seaside towns, instead we have Abigail, Steve and Wendy to blame.

The typically British, and almost polite names, aren’t quite as dramatic as their counterparts over the pond such as ‘Joaquin’ and ‘Bill’. Nevertheless, since the campaign started, whenever we are set for severe weather the national press is now quick to name, shame and sensationalise the storm brewing – we’ve already seen this with Abigail and Barney. The public share their experience and capture images of each storm using a hashtag on social media which has really helped the Met Office’s achieve its objectives of communicating the weather.

By Emma Rawlinson


Epic Strut drives online business for

In 2015, online price comparison company introduced us to Dave, the hot pant, high-heel-wearing customer who, ecstatic after saving money on his car insurance, twerked and strutted his way around town to the sound of The Pussycat Dolls song ‘Don’t Cha’.

The aim of the Epic Strut campaign was to use social engagement to increase brand awareness, for people searching for insurance online. It resulted in #epicstrut trending on Twitter with more than 21,000 mentions, over 2.5million views on YouTube, and parodies on television and social media. Most importantly, the firm’s website experienced a 24 per cent increase in traffic – the main goal of the campaign.

The campaign worked because the dull subject of insurance was brought to life through visual humour, celebrity endorsement (Sharon Osborne delivers the ‘you’re so MoneySuperMarket’ tagline), and the fact it was so easy for people to engage with (and parody) online. Such was the ubiquity of the campaign that Chancellor George Osbourne was the victim of a front page parody by The Sun newspaper when, following his 2015 Budget, his head was superimposed onto Dave’s body alongside the headline ‘George’s epic strut’.

By Jennifer Peacock


John Lewis achieves lift-off with Man on the Moon

Many people, myself included, are aghast at the amount of money spent on creating this tug-on-the-heartstrings, big-budget advert. But whatever you might think about the cost, John Lewis launched an impeccable campaign which has seen them ‘claim Christmas’.

From the build-up, generating a buzz on social media, to the advert itself and follow-up media stories, the team hit many touchpoints within a matter of days, leaving competitors in their wake.

To date, the video has had over 18 million views on Youtube, John Lewis has launched a Man on the Moon app, generated countless mentions of the #ManOnTheMoon hashtag, and multiple parodies.

Even the hardest of hearts has to melt a little when you realise the video was made in conjunction with Age UK, to raise awareness about loneliness in elderly people this Christmas. But how many people know that, and how many simply focused on the flashy visuals and £7m cost? That’s how the real success of the campaign will be measured.

By Ben Hewes


The bubbles didn’t burst for Prosecco

My stand out PR exercise (or stunt) came from a producer of one of Britain’s favourite type of fizz…Prosecco. Robert Cremonese, the export manager for Bisol, said back in May there had been a bad harvest in Italy which ‘could’ prompt a global shortage of the drink.

The announcement was covered across the globe with major news channels reporting the story. Cue consumer panic. An article on the Independent regarding the shortage got 139,000 shares alone. A quick search in Google shows approximately 74,000 results for the term ‘Prosecco shortage’, with fans of the drink taking to social media exclaiming they were off to buy 20 bottles of the stuff before it runs out.

What happens when there’s a shortage of something very popular? Demand and price often increases. The Daily Mail spotted this and reported that there were suspicions that some Italian producers were hyping the problem in the hope of increasing the price of the fizz.

A simple but very effective PR campaign.

By Michael Gregory


Coca-Cola’s ‘Labels are for cans not people’ campaign

In 2015, Coca Cola was a brand that really understood the growing need for brands to ‘morally engage’ with consumers. During the month of Ramadan, Coke dropped its logo from products in the Middle East and released a new version of the iconic red and white can, bearing nothing but the slogan “labels are for cans not people”.

It also posted an accompanying video on YouTube and Facebook which informs us that it takes seven seconds to form a prejudice based on appearance, and documents six strangers getting to know each other in the dark. When the lights come up a diverse group is revealed (sharing a Coke, naturally) which includes a man with facial tattoos, one in Arab dress and another in a wheelchair.

The campaign was successful because it was grounded in people and emotions. At a time where equality and abolishing prejudice is a hot topic, Coca-Cola was able to start an important conversation and make a compelling point about removing stereotypes. The result is simple: Brand loyalty is increased because Coca-Cola is essentially saying “we’ve taken a stand, so stand with us”. Plus, by throwing its weight behind an emotive issue, Coke is able to market itself to us as the hero of the story – instead of the multi-billion dollar corporation that’s bad for our health.

By Laura Cullen


Salvation Army responds to #TheDress

In February, social media users across the globe went into meltdown about the optical illusion of a certain dress. Was it blue and black, or white and gold? While the online community were busy debating the colour – with millions of #DressGate tweets and Roman Originals shifting 3,000 units of the dress in a week and a half – The Salvation Army were planning how to hijack the news agenda for a much more worthy cause.

The South African arm of the charity used a shocking image of a bruised woman in the white and gold version of the dress alongside the caption ‘Why is it so hard to see black and blue?’ The social meme made an impact globally, boasting over 16,000 retweets, while also making headlines here in the UK to highlight that an estimated one in four women in the UK will experience some form of domestic abuse in their lifetime.

The charity’s clever use of shock tactics not only helped raise brand awareness, but also made a powerful point – stop overlooking domestic violence.

By Samantha Booth

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