Car manufacturer Peugeot wanted to raise its profile among student drivers and their parents. Retained agency LawsonClarke decided the best way to do this was by finding out students', and other new young drivers', attitudes towards road safety and car ownership.
To align the Peugeot brand with young drivers - future new car buyers - as well as their parents, who might hold the purse strings, through media coverage. To promote its small cars, particularly the Peugeot 106 and 206 models, while highlighting its commitment to road safety.
Strategy and Plan
LawsonClarke commissioned research by SurveyShop to generate enough data for two separate PR pushes. The first, about attitudes to car ownership, was published to coincide with A-level results last August, a time when students would be confirming their university places, and perhaps buying a car.
The second push focused on safety, and particularly young people's attitudes towards winter driving, and was published to coincide with the clocks going back at the end of October.
The survey was carried out in three university towns in the South, the Midlands and the North where researchers picked on young people who had typically been driving for a year or two.
LawsonClarke also commissioned two original news pictures to illustrate both parts of the survey and these were sent to the national press, consumer motoring magazines, student publications, local media, and websites.
The research showed that students' attitudes to driving were better than expected, with many confessing to having concerns about driving on winter roads. This finding generated copy, although some was a little tongue-in-cheek, with journalists commenting that students were no longer 'radical'. Some publications, such as The Sun, latched on to the more quirky survey questions about students' favourite CDs and whether they had fluffy dice in their cars.
Measurement and Evaluation
LawsonClarke evaluated coverage of the safety press release, which appeared in more than 100 of the target media titles. National newspapers that ran a story using the research included The Sun and The Mirror, along with regional newspapers such as the Peterborough Evening Telegraph and the Southern Daily Echo, while Auto Express, the Top Gear website and local radio in Gloucestershire also ran pieces.
A similar amount of coverage from the release about student attitudes to car ownership was also obtained.
Peugeot, and its commitment to road safety, was mentioned across all media coverage. LawsonClarke hasn't conducted research into whether brand awareness has been raised as a result of its efforts due to the difficulty of determining and separating the influences of PR and Peugeot's recent TV advertising. However, the survey results are likely to be used in a comparative study at a later date.
The York Evening Press ran a feature about driving safely in winter, based on Peugeot's research. Feature writer Stephen Lewis says it regularly gets surveys sent in - many of which are unusable - but this one included interesting and hard-hitting advice.
'We used it as an introduction to the feature and developed it with input from a local driving expert,' he says.
He reveals that as the newspaper saw it as a story about driving rather than just cars, it was moved to the consumer pages from the motoring section.
'It was useful public information and I got all the details I needed from the PR,' he adds.