CAMPAIGN: Consumer PR - Online sweet shop fills gap in the market

Client: aquarterof.co.uk PR Team: Octopus Communications Campaign: Launch of aquarterof.co.uk Timescale: February - May 2003 Budget: £6,000

Remember Kola Kubes and Flying Saucers? When entrepreneur Michael Parker found he had a craving for the sweets of his youth, but could not find them in shops, he created the online store www.aquarterof.co.uk. He asked Octopus to bring the flavours of Black Jacks and Fruit Salads back to the UK consumer.

Objectives

To launch www.aquarter of.co.uk in the UK; to manage media and customer interest and to achieve consistent site hits and orders.

Strategy and Plan

PR had to be tailored to allow for a gradual increase in visitors to the site, with the exception of launch week when extra resources would be on hand to handle a boom in customers, so Octopus developed a campaign to produce measured growth.

Playing on the nostalgia theme and the success of Friends Reunited and SchoolDisco.com, Octopus targeted UK consumers in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties. It embarked upon a campaign focusing on the tabloid press and radio.

Nostalgia bulletin boards were bombarded with postings about the site, specific radio presenters were targeted with the news that their favourite sweets were back on the shelves, and creative photography was developed.

Octopus also created a series of online competitions to continue a slow drip of coverage. A second release was sent to new media and technology publications, aiming to position www.aquarterof.co.uk among the top online nostalgia and retro websites.

Finally, Octopus developed a viral marketing campaign to create on online buzz around retro sweets and drive users to the site. The agency created and distributed a branded 'How 80s are you?' email and forwarded it to targeted journalists.

Measurement and Evaluation

The company received blanket coverage during launch week, including BBC Radio 2's The Steve Wright Show, the Daily Mirror, London's Metro, the Sunday People and the Daily Mail's Weekend. Coverage continued in BBC Good Food magazine and Loaded, and appearances are scheduled on Live with Christian O'Connell, BBC Good Food Live and a retro show on Channel 4.

The competitions - including on The Sun Online, handbag.com, and mykindaplace .com - received more than 15,000 entrants.

Results

During launch week, orders on www.aquarterof.co.uk rose by 1,000 per cent, from ten to 15 orders a day to more than 100.

Users were asked how they heard about the service, and PR was found to be responsible for more than 80 per cent of new customers.

Aquarterof.co.uk is now a viable business, ticking over at between 20 and 40 orders a day.

mykindplace.com promotions manager Jo Surman said: 'The PR campaign really jumped out at us. Communications to us were fun, fresh and original and the 'Win a years supply of sweets' competition we ran was a real hit.'

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