PRWeek Awards 2011: Financial Services

Barclays and Barclaycard's 'contactless' technology lets users make small payments by swiping their debit/credit cards across a special reader. The pair decided to run their first joint PR campaign to promote the technology.

The Red Consultancy was briefed to make the case to both consumers and retailers that transactions could be quicker (no PIN required) and commerce could run faster by using contactless payment.

The challenge was to come up with an idea that would speak to a number of audiences including consumers, retailers and the payment industry. It also had to spark interest when the service had already launched and the technology story had been told.


A simple, brilliant idea that was well executed

George Godsal, managing director, corporate, MSL London

Red recommended a campaign with several different strands to generate media coverage and talkability. This included a high impact photo-led story to dramatise the technology in a surprising way.

Red held a brainstorming session to come up with a striking image. Iconic, visual and unlikely businesses and individuals were considered before the agency decided on street buskers.

Red tracked down Pete Buffery, a 20-something professional musician, through his MySpace page. He was commissioned to perform for one day only to the public and media. His guitar was adapted to use contactless technology and passers-by were given pre-paid cards to swipe over his guitar frets if they liked his performance. He raised more than £4,000 for charity.

At the same time, the agency planned 'Frustration Nation', a research-based news story, based on the question: 'How long would you queue at a till before you gave up?' Consumers said they would queue for an average of only two minutes.

The results were presented to the media and retailers at an event in a cashless EAT outlet in SE1.

Meanwhile, the agency continued to generate speedy industry comment, both reactive and proactive.

More than 175 articles were generated, including 19 national articles. An 80 per cent rise in transaction volumes was recorded over the course of the campaign.

The Awards 2011 book will be available in this week's issue of PRWeek

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