Client: Sense, The National Deafblind and Rubella Association
Campaign: Catharine Hartley’s walk across Antarctica to the South
PR Team: In-house and Meridian Corporate Communications
Timescale: October 1999 - February 2000
Budget: Less than pounds 800
At the end of September 1999 Catharine Hartley approached Sense,
offering to raise money for the charity. Having recently completed a
sign-language course, she wanted to support people with multi-sensory
impairment and planned to do this through her expedition to become the
first British woman to walk across Antarctica to the South Pole.
Travel insurer Club Direct was already sponsoring the expedition, so
Sense worked directly with the company’s PR agency, Meridian Corporate
To raise money for Sense by improving its profile nationally. To promote
Hartley’s fundraising efforts.
Strategy and Plan
Once Sense received Hartley’s offer of help its in-house team of press
and PR officer Georgia Veats and communications director Stephen
Bromberg contacted Meridian Corporate Communications to co-ordinate
The two teams wanted a PR angle that could be conveyed visually and
would appeal to a wide audience. They decided to create a
specially-branded teddy bear to accompany Hartley on her expedition.
Upon her return the bear would be auctioned on the internet to raise
funds for the charity.
A rare ’Britannia’ bear - one of the series of highly collectable Baby
Beanies - was bought and named Christopher and dressed in a T-shirt
bearing the Sense and Club Direct logos.
The team made sure that all media calls focused on Christopher. These
took place before Hartley left, when the internet auction was announced
on her return, and finally with the results of the auction. It was also
arranged that the only available pictures of Hartley on the expedition
included Christopher the bear.
Playing on the media’s recent interest in the growth of on-line auction
sites, Sense linked up with Sotheby’s to auction the bear. The auction
house provided its services free of charge.
Interest in the bear was generated through the internet. Beanie
enthusiast web-sites were targeted, on-line news stories were posted and
rumours circulated via on-line chat rooms.
Once the auction ended, Sense liaised with Sotheby’s to identify
Christopher the bear’s new owner. The highest bidder was found to be a
British woman who had bought the bear as a Valentine’s gift for her
husband. The story was sold into the national and regional press.
Measurement and Evaluation
Hartley raised pounds 2,000 for the charity, and the campaign allowed
Sense to target the press three times. The expedition and the auction
were covered in a number of national newspapers, including pictures of
Hartley and Christopher in his Sense branded T-shirt being featured in
the Daily Mail, the Express and the Daily Telegraph. The Express
coverage included an exclusive Valentine’s Day story. Radio 5 Live, the
BBC and ITV London news programmes, 22 regional newspapers, one regional
radio station and 15 magazines also ran the story.
Sense’s campaign was a success. The tie-up of the Sense-branded
’Britannia’ Beanie Bear with the first British woman to cross the
Antarctic provided a quirky news hook that would appeal to a broad range
The fact that the pictures from Hartley’s expedition, and the subsequent
auction, all featured Christopher in the logo-branded T-shirt meant that
all coverage of the event would clearly communicate the Sense brand to
people. And by tapping into current areas of public and media interest -
in Beanies and on-line auctions - this exposure was reinforced.