PR Team: A Plus Group
positioning of Cambridge Display Technology
Timescale: November 1995 launch with on-going press work.
Cost: Launch costs pounds 7,500 plus expenses.
CDT was founded three years ago following a hi-tech breakthrough by
Cambridge University physicist, Professor Richard Friend. He discovered
light-emitting polymers (LEPs) which, he claims, allow low-cost, high
performance colour displays for use on everything from mobile phones, to
television sets and computers. The beauty of LEPs is that they’re
cheaper and less bulky than current cathode ray tube technology and can
be made on flexible plastic - in future we could have roll-up, wafer
thin TV and computer screens.
The company needed its business strategy, patents and licences in place
before publicly courting funds to expand operations.
CDT launched a funding round earlier this year to raise pounds 4 million
to help it bring its first products to production by next year.
Publicity was needed to bring interested investors and business partners
to its door, so A Plus was given the task of bringing CDT’s existence to
the notice of opinion formers and publicising the viability of LEP
By emphasising business opportunities - the electronic displays market
will be worth pounds 45 billion within three years according to Japanese
industry estimates - it was hoped CDT would take off.
Early investors in CDT included some high-profile names, including
veteran rockers Genesis, Hermann Hauser a founding director of Acorn
Computer, and technology inventor Professor Richard Friend.
The investors were brought together for the London press launch of CDT
and helped deliver a variety of news angles to the invited business and
national media: picture opportunities and celebrity link with Genesis,
Cambridge University’s exciting spin-out technology and the potential
for a UK company targeting a huge global industry.
The press conference generated substantial stories in the Financial
Times, the Times, the Sunday Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian,
Reuters and trade papers, including Electronic Engineering Times,
Computer Weekly and Electronics Weekly.
BBC Radios 4 and 5 and regional stations also ran items.
Deals have since been signed with Xyratex, a former division of IBM, to
work on the production of flexible circuit boards and the Bank of Tokyo
has agreed to provide assistance in sourcing partners in Japan and Asia
Pacific. A major deal with an electronics giant is due to be announced
One broadsheet journalist said they were surprised A Plus had not pushed
the story to the consumer press, considering the excitement tiny
flexible TV screens would be likely to generate. But the agency says
that it didn’t want to create unreasonable expectations as consumers
wouldn’t be able to purchase the screens for several years.
CDT’s business development manager Mark Gostick was however, delighted
with the handling of the story by the nationals, and believes that the
company’s pounds 4 million funding target will be met within the next