CAMPAIGNS: Fundraising breathes life into Centrica - CSR

Client: Centrica
PR Team: In-house
Campaign: Breathing Life
Timescale: April 2001 - July 2002
Budget: £25,000

Centrica, the company created as the parent of British Gas, has expanded significantly in recent years, launching Goldfish and acquiring the AA and One.Tel.

The Breathing Life campaign resulted from two needs. Firstly, to bring some unity to a fairly disparate workforce spread across four separate firms. Centrica also realised that for its corporate brand to be accepted as a leading purveyor of home services, it needed to engender characteristics such as having integrity, and being caring and trusted.

A high-profile CSR programme was seen as the solution for both, and the entire group's employees voted to support The Cystic Fibrosis Trust with fundraising activities. The campaign scooped the IPR's Corporate Social Responsibility award this year.

Objectives

The primary objective was to raise money for the Trust - a target of £150,000 was agreed upon.

There were also three objectives of the publicity campaign planned to surround the fundraising: to create better public understanding of Cystic Fibrosis and the work of the Trust; to further the reputation of Centrica and its subsidiary brands as socially responsible and caring firms; and to improve employee motivation across the group. The PR team hoped to generate 20 million 'opportunities to see' the media coverage of the campaign.

Strategy and Plan

Employees arranged to take part in a range of fundraising activities, including the Flora London Marathon, the New York Marathon, the Scottish Gas Road Race and the Lake District Challenge. These were scheduled events with participation organised by Centrica - many employees also created smaller local events.

The Breathing Life slogan and bubbles illustration was dreamt up by Centrica's PR team as a device to easily lend itself to photo opportunities. It also acted as a visual focus for the campaign, whichever of Centrica's brands were being referred to.

Much of the media relations effort was directed at local and regional press.

Measurement and Evaluation

The campaign was covered in 250 newspaper articles, many of which used the Breathing Life slogan in headlines. Thirty-six million opportunities to see were created - nearly double the original target.

There were also 30 radio interviews and an item on Meridian TV about an AA member of staff taking part in the New York Marathon.

Results

The most tangible result is that £300,000 was raised for the Trust by February - double what was hoped for with five months of the campaign left to run (it ends this month).

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust has also received approaches from potential sponsors, which must act as a testament to the profile the Breathing Life campaign has created.

For Centrica, the main measurable benefit has been what it claims is an increased sense of unity that has been brought to employees. Working relationships between the four subsidiaries have been strengthened.

The only objective that has not been specifically measured so far, is the extent to which the image of Centrica and its brands has been improved by its association with Cystic Fibrosis fundraising.

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