CAMPAIGNS: LOBBYING; Warwick serves meat trade beef

Client: International Meat Trade Association PR Team: Warwick Corporate Campaign: To win compensation for British beef exporters and dependent businesses following the BSE crisis Timescale: 4 April - ongoing Estimated Cost: pounds 10,000 per week for first three weeks, retainer of pounds 2,000 a week for monitoring and political advice, specific projects costed separately

Client: International Meat Trade Association

PR Team: Warwick Corporate

Campaign: To win compensation for British beef exporters and dependent

businesses following the BSE crisis

Timescale: 4 April - ongoing

Estimated Cost: pounds 10,000 per week for first three weeks, retainer

of pounds 2,000 a week for monitoring and political advice, specific

projects costed separately



The European Union’s decision on 26 March to halt sales of British beef

threw the meat industry into panic. Under pressure from the National

Farmers Union, the Government came up with a compensation package for

beef producers worth some pounds 118 million. But it soon became clear

that beef exporters would not qualify for a slice of this cash, despite

being among the worst hit by the ban - they work on profit margins of

one to two per cent and are holding 35 million pounds worth of beef,

approved for human consumption by British Government scientists but

banned from sale internationally. Meanwhile established businesses are

closing down with more than 5,000 jobs being lost across the industry

so far.



Objectives



To persuade the UK and European governments to compensate British beef

exporters and dependent businesses with an emergency package of pounds

12 million.



Tactics



Warwick Corporate was given 24 hours to come up with a strategy. The

approach initially focused on the IMTA’s 28 per cent export membership

but within five days the brief had been expanded and Warwick was asked

to represent the entire membership.



Key journalists and opinion formers were the target of the campaign,

according to account director Martin Minns, formerly of Conservative

Central Office. The team organised a series of political and legal

briefings, the climax of which was a public meeting in the House of

Commons on 23 April. Angela Browning, Parliamentary Secretary to

Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, was invited to join top

brass from the IMTA but she failed to attend.



Meanwhile in front of the Commons, Warwick organised a beef give-away of

a tonne of prime steak. Throughout the five-week campaign, news stories

highlighting individual examples of IMTA-members’ situations, were fed

to the press.



Warwick also staged a stunt outside Conservative Central Office

featuring a take-off of the Tory’s ‘Double Whammy’ ad from the 1992

election campaign entitled ‘Hogg’s Double Whammy’, drawing attention to

the lost exports and job losses that the Government’s failure to address

the export issue will lead to.



Results



IMTA chairman Jenny Burt and export committee member Martin Richardson

gave interviews to GMTV, World at One, Today and Newsbeat among others.



The beef give-away was used as a photo story in every national paper and

picked up by Channel 4 News, Newsnight and generated valuable regional

coverage. The ‘Double Whammy’ stunt generated photo-pieces in the

Financial Times and the Guardian plus coverage in the Times, Sunday

Business, regional press and spots on Newsnight and GMTV.



Within an hour of the launch, Warwick received a briefing request from

Tony Blair’s office, and at Prime Minister’s Question Time, John Major

was asked if he was aware of the criticism levelled at the Government by

British beef exporters.



Verdict



Martin Richardson is satisfied no one in Government can now say they

weren’t aware of the exporters’ plight. In media terms the campaign is

an undoubted success with the languishing export trade now reported

alongside the more publicised plight of farmers and abattoirs. However

Warwich face an uphill struggle lobbying for a reversal of the

Government’s stance on compensation for exporters.



But as Minns points out: ‘They’re making noise about having the ban

lifted, when the reality is that without pounds 12 million, a piddling

amount, the export sector will no longer exist by the time confidence

returns to the market. Something’s up.’



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