Campaigns: Maritime - Shipping industry targets the pirates

Somali piracy in the Indian Ocean is a huge problem for the shipping industry - some 850 seafarers are currently being held captive in appalling conditions and piracy is costing the world economy $8-12bn a year.

Maritime: shipping industry targets the pirates
Maritime: shipping industry targets the pirates

Campaign: Save Our Seafarers
Client: Save Our Seafarers (a group of shipping industry associations)
PR team: RMS
Timescale: March-May 2011
Budget: £32,500

Five shipping industry associations have come together to run a campaign to give the problem of piracy a greater public and political profile around the world. Following a competitive pitch, RMS was asked to run the marcoms for the campaign. The group was led by Intertanko, the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners.

Objective

To put the eradication of Somali piracy high on the public and political agenda worldwide, particularly in the 147 countries that are reliant on maritime trade.

Strategy and plan

RMS named the campaign Save Our Seafarers. It devised, built and produced a multimedia campaign including a dedicated website, saveourseafarers.com.

It urged supporters in 147 countries to send an automated signed letter to their respective heads of government, as well as set up Twitter and Facebook accounts.

The agency sent press releases to global media about death tolls and the state of the maritime industry, and set up interviews with media, including a Reuters interview.

RMS also produced and ran a global ad campaign, with a separate budget, which appeared in Time magazine, the New York Times and The Times. Ads were also booked in the FT and The Wall Street Journal in the week of the campaign launch.

Measurement and evaluation

The campaign generated press and TV coverage in newspapers, journals and TV stations worldwide, including Times of India, Time magazine, Handelsblatt, Newsweek magazine and The Guardian. Googling 'Save Our Seafarers' now produces more than 100,000 relevant searches. At the end of the campaign in May, there were 3,729 subscribers to the Facebook page and 643 subscribers to the Twitter feed.

Results

Within the first few weeks, 10,000 letters had been dispatched and returned from key global political leaders.

The number of maritime organisations backing the campaign swelled from five to 22 at an international conference in Athens held earlier this summer. Organisers of the primary global shipping industry's annual conference, to be held in Malmo, Sweden, later this year, have asked to use the Save Our Seafarers campaign as a keynote theme.

In April, Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the United Nations, acknowledged the campaign and Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada, has written offering his support. A US senator raised the subject at length in an address to Congress.

Momentum continues to gather and there have now been more than 14,000 global government letters sent to the Save Our Seafarers website offering support.

After the initial three-month campaign, RMS has now been hired to carry out an integrated campaign for the next 12 months.

Second Opinion

Elin Twigge, Executive committee member, PLMR

The success of this campaign was underpinned by getting the message right from the start. Having taken on a global issue, with far-reaching economic impact, the debate was rightly framed around the people at the centre of it all.

By highlighting the effect of piracy on the individuals held captive - and each and every one of us in terms of global food supply - audiences were more likely to empathise with the rallying cry to 'Save Our Seafarers'.

The use of grassroots campaign tactics and social media enabled the cost-effective creation of a global platform for securing support from political leaders, in turn encouraging more maritime organisations to back the campaign.

This was a classic example of framing a message correctly and then taking an integrated approach to disseminating it, combining traditional public affairs with PR, global advertising and SEO. When trying to draw attention to issues that, despite their human interest angle, are failing to attract human interest, this is a textbook way of doing it.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Latest Articles

Max Clifford trial jury to reconvene tomorrow after majority verdicts direction

Max Clifford trial jury to reconvene tomorrow after majority verdicts direction

The jury in the trial of celebrity publicist Max Clifford on 11 charges of indecent assault has been sent home for the day after being told by the judge earlier this afternoon that he will now accept majority verdicts.

Labour "fooling themselves" over plans to combat attacks on Miliband

Labour "fooling themselves" over plans to combat attacks on Miliband

Conservative-leaning public affairs experts have questioned the value of Labour's adoption of US-style campaigning tactics in the wake of the opposition hiring election strategist David Axelrod.

PLMR appoints Professor Tim Morris as non-executive director

The vet who helped establish the British Horseracing Authority's anti-doping and animal welfare programme has joined PLMR as a non-executive director.