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.
To maximise national and regional coverage and ensure that sponsors
reaped the benefits of the attempt.
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.
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.
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,
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
PR Team: Publicity Matters
Campaign: The British Landspeed record attempt
Timescale: September to November 1998