Campaign: Yorkshire Water fools public with 'diet water'- Publicity Stunt

Campaign: Diet Tap Water April Fool

Client: Yorkshire Water

PR team: In-house

Timescale: 1 April 2004

Budget: £300

Each year, as millions of pounds are spent on soft drinks, Yorkshire Water decided it was time to raise the profile of its own soft drink - tap water. Objectives

To raise the profile of tap water, and to push Yorkshire Water's national profile.

Strategy and Plan

The company decided to play an April Fool trick on the public, this activity forming the first stage of its annual Quality Water Campaign.

The PR team came up with the idea of launching 'diet tap water', a fictitious product that would help consumers lose weight.

It claimed the water went through a secondary treatment process to give it a negative charge that would attract positive fat cells in the body when consumed. Distribution would come from a third tap installed to kitchen sinks.

A local housing developer agreed to loan a show home for one week, and a third tap was plumbed in. A fictitious couple were sourced who would be ready to talk about the benefits of diet tap water and how it had helped them lose weight.

The company contacted GMTV and the TV show was happy to play along with the trick. Other media outlets that agreed to take part were the local ITV news programme and the Yorkshire Evening Post.

In order to measure feedback, a freephone number was set up on the day for customers to call if they wanted further information.

Measurement and Evaluation

During GMTV's three-hour programme on 1 April, more than 45 minutes were dedicated to the 'product launch'.

Following GMTV, diet tap water also featured live on the Lorraine Kelly Show on ITV. Viewers were encouraged to visit the GMTV website for more information and the freephone number. Later that day, the Yorkshire Evening Post ran a half-page story on diet tap water, again encouraging customers to phone the dietline.

The following morning, GMTV covered the story a further three times to reveal it as a trick. The story also proved convincing enough for two national newspapers and a documentary production company to call Yorkshire Water's press office for more information.

Results

In the 12 hours following the TV broadcast, more than 10,000 people phoned the freephone number and more than 500 people called the Yorkshire Water call centre.

GMTV director of programmes Peter McHugh says: 'We decided to run the story as it was a very good idea and tied in exactly with our desire to entertain our audience.'

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