Campaign: Technology/travel - Travelex crosses the final cash frontier

Campaign: The launch of the QUID
Client: Travelex.co.uk
PR team: Talk PR
Timescale: October 2007
Budget: c. £10,000

Travelex.co.uk is a site that provides foreign currency to travellers. It operates in a highly competitive market and faces competition from major brands such as Marks & Spencer and the Post Office, along with a new breed of exclusively online foreign exchange providers such as fairfx.com.

Last year the team asked Talk PR to help it generate cut-through and carry its 'currency expert' message to the widest possible audience.

Objectives

To position Travelex.co.uk as a foreign exchange expert

- To raise awareness of and drive traffic to the Travelex.co.uk website

- To stimulate sales

- To create a world first that would generate word of mouth and 'word of mouse'.

Strategy and plan

Talk PR approached the National Space Centre (NSC) in Leicester to create the world's first space currency: the Quasi Universal Intergalactic Denomination or QUID.

Working with Professor George Fraser from the NSC and a design agency, Talk PR investigated the technical needs behind space currency and researched the history of space travel and the future prospects for space tourism.

It then sat down with the design agency to develop a prototype. Once that was designed, Talk PR started to create its story.

Images of the prototype and a press release with quotes from both Professor Fraser and Travelex were sent to national newswires and then seeded online. The story and interviews with the spokespeople was sold in by Talk PR ahead of the distribution to key contacts in the print and broadcast media.

The release also included a link to Travelex.co.uk for those interested in the exchange rate for the QUID, which was hosted on the site alongside all the other foreign exchange rates offered by Travelex.co.uk. A wider sell-in was carried out to cover regional and online press.

Measurement and evaluation

The story of the QUID generated more than 130 pieces of coverage. Traditional media carried four national broadcast pieces, two broadsheet stories and 19 consumer lifestyle magazine articles.

However, it was online that the concept of the QUID really took off. Within hours of releasing the story it had spread to more than 50 websites, and it became bbc.co.uk's most emailed story on the day the campaign broke.

Within three days it had travelled around the globe, securing coverage in countries as diverse as Spain, Russia, Africa, Canada, Australia and the US. By the end of day five more than 400 sites and blogs were discussing or reviewing the QUID. These included the leading news and information sites on the internet, from Sky News, Channel 4, BBC Online and Digg to Wired and National Geographic.

The story even found its way on to YouTube via a news clip from French television. The final confirmation of the idea's success within the online community was the entry of the QUID into Wikipedia, an act carried out independently of the PR agency or any person affiliated to Travelex.

Results

The idea was a first - no other brand had created money for use in space. It also resonated with Travelex's core business - providing people with foreign currency. According to Talk PR's evaluation, the campaign delivered a ROI of 42:1, but it was Travelex's stats that showed the true impact of the campaign.

It became the biggest and most successful PR campaign in the brand's 25 year history, delivering a 140 per cent increase in traffic on the site and contributing to a 50 per cent increase in turnover year on year for the month the campaign ran.

Both the firm and Talk PR are still getting enquiries about the campaign over a year later.

Second Opinion

Mark Pinsent, Director, Edelman Public Relations

The QUID campaign highlights one of the fundamental issues of the PR business. The value of the intellectual property in Talk PR's idea is simply enormous. But, as ever, I bet the entire £10k budget was devoted to simply paying for Talk PR's time in implementing the campaign. As an industry, we're too happy to give away one of our most valuable resources - our creativity. It gets my goat.

Anyway, with that rant over, this is a great idea. Simple, properly thought out and well executed. The involvement of the National Space Centre was essential in giving what might have otherwise been considered a gimmick a bit of weight. It also gave the potentially near-future idea of space tourism a touch of reality. Designing and making some actual QUIDs was a stroke of genius too, giving the story an important visual element. It reminded me of the money used in The Adventure Game on the BBC in the 80s, but I'm showing my age.

For an online business, driving traffic is everything. More visitors means more revenue, as the QUID campaign clearly proves. A viral spread online was therefore manna from heaven. Reaching an online audience with a message about an online business immediately removes one barrier to conversion.

The indisputable effect of the QUID campaign on Travelex 's revenue is the kind of measurement we all dream of.

All in all, a lovely job. Having said that, the phrase 'word of mouse' could safely be lost in space ...

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