NEWS: CB switches sides in channel battle

Eurotunnel’s former public relations agency Charles Barker is to handle the launch of a potential competitor - the French-owned ferry service SeaFrance.

Eurotunnel’s former public relations agency Charles Barker is to handle

the launch of a potential competitor - the French-owned ferry service

SeaFrance.



Seafrance was formed by the French state-controlled ferry operator

Societe Nouvelle d’Armament Transmanche (SNAT) after its split with UK

partner Stena-Sealink in July.



Charles Barker beat off competition from two other agencies - Edelman,

which was hired by SNAT to advise on the split and Prime Communications

- to win the six figure account.



The consultancy will handle ‘launch and development’ activity for the

ferry company which begins operating on the already crowded Dover-Calais

route from January next year.



SNAT and Stena-Sealink pooled profits and marketing costs for 26 years

but are understood to have differed over future marketing strategy.



The SeaFrance management are said to be in favour of a more Gallic

image, according to agency divisional director and former head of public

relations at P&O ferries Jane Larcombe, who led the pitch.



‘Ferry travel has improved over the years to counter the introduction of

Le Shuttle but research shows consumers cannot differentiate between one

company and another,’ said Larcombe.



‘SeaFrance will be the only French firm on the Channel and customers

will be able to experience a taste of France the moment they step on

board.’



Larcombe said the agency was planning an ‘aggressive sales oriented

campaign’ in order to help SeaFrance reach its goal of capturing a

‘sizeable share’ of the market.



Charles Barker’s three-year contract to promote Eurotunnel and Le

Shuttle to consumers in five European markets ran out in June.



The agency will campaign for SeaFrance against rival ferry companies P&O

Ferries, its ex-business partner Stena Sealink and Eurotunnel, which is

eating into the ferries’ share of tourist traffic.



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