CAMPAIGNS: Creating a new era in shopping - Consumer PR

Bluewater is Europe’s largest retail and leisure destination. It opened on 16 March near Dartford in Kent and was designed as a ’new generation retail environment’ by Australian property developer Lend Lease.

Bluewater is Europe’s largest retail and leisure destination. It

opened on 16 March near Dartford in Kent and was designed as a ’new

generation retail environment’ by Australian property developer Lend

Lease.



Cohn and Wolfe was hired to develop the brand, handle community

relations, promote the venue to consumers, and provide a press

office.



Objectives



To position Bluewater as a shopping alternative to central London and as

Europe’s most exciting retail and leisure centre. To attract customers

who would not normally visit an out-of-town shopping centre and support

the leasing team in attracting quality retailers.



Tactics



Cohn and Wolfe developed and ran four programmes. In each element of the

campaign, PR was the primary form of communication.



To convey how Bluewater differs from other shopping centres, the agency

commissioned research to explore the shopping habits of men and

women.



The research identified that half of all shopping trips end in tears as

men and women have different shopping needs. Bluewater had created a

tailored retail offer for men - the male creche, and the research was

used to position the centre as an innovative shopping environment.



Cohn and Wolfe had to keep local press, community groups, and nearby

residents informed of developments including questions on Bluewater’s

impact on local traders, traffic and the environment. Initiatives

included the creation of a press club to give local updates, a community

newsletter distributed as an insert in local newspapers, as well as the

promotion of a roadshow to publicise the 6,700 new jobs, and the launch

of a transport plan to encourage shoppers and staff to travel by bus or

train.



Cohn and Wolfe organised a national press programme of tailored features

on specialist subjects including architecture, landscaping, family and

kids, and set up a fashion launch to introduce Bluewater to key fashion

writers. The agency also co-ordinated and monitored media and retailer

queries and managed on-site media events such as press breakfasts.

Crisis planning and management handled by the press office included

dealing with the out-of-town versus high street debate and traffic and

transportation issues, all of which were highlighted in the media when

Bluewater opened for business.



Results



The fashion launch was attended by 40 journalists from titles including

Elle, Vogue and Marie Claire. Around 70 journalists, ranging from trade

to foreign correspondents, attended the on-site preview week. Pre-launch

coverage from October 1998 to February 1999 resulted in 180

articles.



The fortnight before launch, 90 pieces appeared in the press, and at

least 70 have appeared since the opening. The press team has handled 600

calls and 60 one-to-one briefings. Around 120,000 shoppers turned up on

launch day.



Verdict



Cohn and Wolfe successfully juggled a campaign which depended as much on

crisis and issues management as getting glossy consumer magazines and

lifestyle writers to buy-in to the Bluewater experience.



Lend Lease marketing director Amanda Longworth said: ’We were relying on

PR to convince journalists to be third party endorsers, and well over 90

per cent of the coverage was positive.’



Client: Bluewater/Lend Lease

PR Team: Cohn and Wolfe

Campaign: Bluewater

Timescale: August 1997 to March 1999

Budget: Undisclosed



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