Integration: PR panache provides an advertising bonus - A recent survey revealed that the advertising story has become a staple of the national press’ diet. More companies are realising the benefit of getting PR involved at the outset

Sexy advertising sells products. But it can do more than that. With a little humour and a dash of PR injected at the outset, you can have a fulfilling press story ready in no time.

Sexy advertising sells products. But it can do more than that. With

a little humour and a dash of PR injected at the outset, you can have a

fulfilling press story ready in no time.

Propeller Marketing Communications’ survey last week showed the extent

to which ads make news. Propeller revealed that in 1996 there were

almost 2,000 advertising stories in the national press. The Independent

alone ran 341 items, an average of almost one per day.

Advertising is now a key part of British popular culture and

increasingly being treated as such by the media.

Advertisers have recognised this and it could be argued their use of the

medium has altered accordingly. Much advertising is now specifically

created to stimulate media controversy.

Political campaigns are a prime example. The Conservative Party’s ’Demon

Eyes’ poster topped Propeller’s survey and one media correspondent says:

’Despite the press coverage I can’t even remember even seeing the last

Labour campaign. Political parties often use only a few key sites.’

Small campaigns can generate disproportionate editorial interest when PR

is used to ’amplify’ their impact. It was Playtex’s advertising for

Wonderbra that really broke the mould three years ago using a potent

combination of sex, humour, celebrity and pro-active PR.

Early on Playtex teamed advertising agency TBWA with Jackie Cooper PR to

show how a small budget - around pounds 300,000 - combined with Eva

Herzigova can generate a mountain of press cuttings.

Wonderbra continues to rate highly in news terms. Last year Playtex used

previously unknown model Caprice Bourret to front National Wonderbra

Week shortly before a new burst of advertising. Bourret became the

’Wonderbra girl’ and a media personality.

But Nick Houghton, marketing director for Playtex says: ’We would never

do PR for the sake of it, or just to shock. We’ve had our fingers burned

in the past. Any ad must be self-standing and work for all the positive

reasons. PR simply makes the advertising work harder.’

’Companies now lavish money on PR for ads and as they spend more it is

getting better and more innovative,’ says Marianne Macdonald, the

Independent’s media correspondent.

And it’s not just brand managers who are converts. Susanna Hailstone,

head of account management at Leagas Shafron Davis Ayer and formerly

responsible for Wonderbra at TBWA, says: ’PR is absolutely essential and

works best if both teams are rocking and rolling from the start. It’s

difficult to tell where amplification ends and genuine awareness begins.

Ideally the two should be seamless.’

Jim Carroll, chief planner for the Levi Strauss account at Bartle Bogle

Hegarty, says: ’It’s difficult to isolate the contribution of PR but it

definitely helps in getting an ad talked about, which is often on our

brief. Social currency is crucial to an ad’s long term success.’

Sven Olsen, partner at Banks Hoggins O’Shea, recognises the important

distinction between strategic and tactical PR support. As an example of

strategic he points to BHO’s work with Daihatsu and the launch of its

four wheel drive Sportrack on a relatively small budget of pounds 1.4


The team decided to puncture the pretensions in the four wheel drive

sector and create a media debate. Having consulted Jackie Cooper, BHO

came out with the ’Hairdressers Need Not Apply’ advertisement, which

generated snowballing interest as hoped.

’The Telegraph, Guardian, Sun and many local press ran the story about

the image of both hairdressers and four wheel drives, and radio DJs were

constantly calling to make the client part of phone in debates,’ said


A good example of tactical support is Freud Communications’ work with

Britvic. Its approach to publicising Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury’s

’Blackcurrant Charge’ commercial for Tango was to make a celebrity of

the ’star’ Ray Gardner. Freud arranged for Gardner to be interviewed by

the Sun and the Mirror. He also appeared on TFI Friday.

’As a youth product, Blackcurrant Tango was particularly adaptable and

flexible. We didn’t need to have a well-known celebrity to reach our

audience,’ says David Atter, international marketing manager for


Freud is more likely to be involved at strategic level when parent

company Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO is handling the advertising. This was

the case with Pizza Hut. In its latest campaign, Freud was central in

choosing and negotiating the appearance of tabloid magnet Pamela


Robert Phillips, partner at Jackie Cooper stresses: ’PR is most

effective if brought in at the beginning of a campaign. Lots of

companies give you a good advertising campaign to PR, but real

integration is involvement at the planning stage.’

He adds: ’All you need is a strong team of creative individuals. There’s

no such thing as a bad idea, just bad people.’


Client                   Campaign                      Stories

The Conservative Party   Pre-election                      126

WonderBra                Eva Herzigova                      51

BT                       Bob Hoskins/Rory McGrath           48

Walkers Crisps           Gary Lineker                       37

Levis                    Black and White ad series          35

Labour                   Pre-election                       34

Source: Ads That Make News Survey by Propeller Marketing Communications

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