CAMPAIGNS: Media Relations; Lotus drives for a wider audience

Client: Lotus Cars PR team: In-house Campaign: Completion of Lotus’s 50,000th car Timescale: March-April 1995 Cost: Under pounds 20,000.

Client: Lotus Cars

PR team: In-house

Campaign: Completion of Lotus’s 50,000th car

Timescale: March-April 1995

Cost: Under pounds 20,000.



Lotus has been making cars since 1948 and produces about 1,000 hand-

built automobiles a year. To celebrate the production of Lotus Cars’

50,000th vehicle, the company wanted to create a media event that would

broaden awareness of the Lotus marque among a wider audience, while also

raising money for a charity that was associated with encouraging young

business enterprise in East-Anglia - a region hard hit by job losses.



Objectives



To find a suitable way to mark this milestone for the company, while

simultaneously creating links with a national, high-profile charity with

a strong regional presence.



Tactics



Lotus Cars’ head of communications, Patrick Peal, linked up with The

Prince’s Trust - a charity involved on a regional level with young

people in start-up businesses.



Lotus’s 50,000th car was donated to the charity in a rolling out

ceremony in March, attended by the company’s 1,000-strong staff, former

Secretary of State for Transport John McGregor, Hazel Chapman, wife of

Lotus founder Colin Chapman, and Britt Ekland, a one-time Lotus owner,

who handed over the car to a representative of the Prince’s Trust.



At this stage, a question mark still hung over the fate of the car. But

after reviewing a variety of methods for realising its PR potential,

Lotus concluded a deal with Stuart Higgins, editor of the Sun, who

agreed to run a high-profile competition with the car as the prize,

using a premium rate telephone number for entries.



The Prince’s Trust enlisted the support of TV personality - Ulrika

Jonsson to promote the competition.



Her photo ran with the competition for a week in the Sun.



Results



Over 140,000 Sun readers rang the telephone hotline and raised pounds

68,000, for the Prince’s Trust - the biggest sum generated by a Sun

competition. All proceeds have been donated to the Prince’s Trust, to be

spent in the East Anglia region over the next three years to support

business start-ups and community action.



Verdict



Lotus Cars achieved an audience awareness level which would have been

unlikely without the use of a mass-market tabloid. The launch ceremony

received television and radio airtime in East Anglia, adding to Lotus’

status as a responsible local employer. According to Peal, the company’s

ongoing relationship with the Prince’s Trust has also led to contacts

with high-profile individuals involved with the charity who have helped

to lift brand awareness and perception by association.



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