CAMPAIGNS: Racing for land speed records - Sponsorship

PrimeTime, the dynamic jet speed car team, has been attempting to break the 19-year-old British Landspeed Record since 1996. Sponsored by Thule, the Bristol-based car accessories firm and several other secondary sponsors, the team travelled to Yorkshire in November 1998 to again attempt this feat.

PrimeTime, the dynamic jet speed car team, has been attempting to

break the 19-year-old British Landspeed Record since 1996. Sponsored by

Thule, the Bristol-based car accessories firm and several other

secondary sponsors, the team travelled to Yorkshire in November 1998 to

again attempt this feat.



Vampire and Split Second are the two specially built jet-powered

dragsters, designed by Colin Fallows, who drives them alongside Mark

Newby, a publisher.



Publicity Matters handled the campaign for the first time this year.



Objectives



To maximise national and regional coverage and ensure that sponsors

reaped the benefits of the attempt.



Tactics



Elvington Airfield is the longest disused airstrip in the UK, and an

ideal location for a landspeed attempt, except that it is a five-hour

drive from London. To combat the problem of London journalists not

turning up, Publicity Matters arranged accommodation rates and supplied

directions to the site and ensured they were well catered for.



But that was not the only difficulty faced by the team - only a few

weeks previously another attempt had been made to break another

landspeed record using a motorbike, which had also attracted a lot of

attention. By highlighting the fact that this record has been unbroken

for 19 years, despite all the advances in motoring technology, the

agency assured the media that there was a story.



To extend the coverage for the sponsors, the media campaign began three

weeks prior to the event, with the unveiling of the cars. Each car was

unveiled separately with exclusive press previews. Journalists were also

briefed with press packs including information about the sponsors, the

cars and the drivers. The cars were branded with company logos and

banners were displayed to ensure that the sponsors had a strong presence

at the event.



On the day of the event, 14 journalists and camera crews were present to

cover the story. However, disastrous weather including rain, fog and

high winds meant that the cars were unable to perform at full speed.



At the end of the day neither car was unable to break the record,

although the Vampire came within ten miles of the record.



Results



Despite the failure of the team to break the record, the campaign was a

success. Coverage included pieces on ITN, Channel 5 News and Sky News,

as well as national and regional press. It is estimated that an audience

of 6.4 million people was reached.



Unfortunately BBC Breakfast News, which had negotiated for the exclusive

breakfast slot on the first day, did not end up covering the story due

to technical problems.



The PrimeTime team plan to make one more attempt at the record, in June

1999 when the weather is likely to be better. Publicity Matters are

already on board to handle the attempt.



Verdict



As the research to evaluate the strength of exposure generated for Thule

is not yet completed, the true success of the campaign is, as yet,

unknown.



The British Landspeed Record attempt is an ideal forum for a company

such as Thule to get its name known among motoring enthusiasts, and to a

lesser extent the general public. Mark Newby, who has handled the

publicity himself for the previous attempts says: ’The results are an

endorsement of the necessity of appointing a professional PR company. My

workload was reduced by 98 per cent, and the coverage increased

massively.’



Client: Thule

PR Team: Publicity Matters

Campaign: The British Landspeed record attempt

Timescale: September to November 1998

Budget: Undisclosed



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