Campaign: National Poetry Day
PR Team: Marketeer
Timescale: July to October 1999
Budget: within retainer fee
When you think of London cabbies, poetry is not necessarily the first
thing that springs to mind, but agency Marketeer felt that National
Poetry Day would be the ideal vehicle to promote its client Dial-a-Cab -
precisely because of the unusual link. It wanted to get away from the
stereotype of London cabbies and highlight Dial-a-Cab’s drivers as being
interesting and different from others.
The agency approached The Poetry Society following the appointment of
the official Poet in The City, John Mole, and commissioned him to write
a poem specially for Dial-a-Cab and its 1,700 licensed London cab
This was published in the drivers’ magazine, Call Sign, together with an
invitation to enter a competition to write a poem for National Poetry
Day on 7 October.
To raise awareness of Dial-a-Cab and its involvement in National Poetry
Day among the target audience of City corporations which form a
significant part of Dial-a-Cab’s accounts.
Strategy and Plan
The competition in the drivers’ magazine was tailored to reflect the
theme of Poetry Day - song lyrics - by asking entrants to choose a line
from a song as the title of their poem. The winning driver, Paul Tully,
was asked to recite his poem on several occasions as part of the
National Poetry Day celebrations, which also included a search for the
’e-poet laureate’ by event sponsor BT.
Marketeer worked with the Poetry Society prior to the day to make sure
the Dial-a-Cab poet would be able to play the biggest part possible.
He appeared at various events - including a Poetry Breakfast with Poet
Laureate Andrew Motion; at readings by Minister for the Arts Alan
Howarth; with John Mole and George Staple QC at the Royal Exchange in
the City; as well as at recitals at the Bridewell Theatre.
Dial-a-Cab provided cabs to take schoolchildren to a release of balloons
at the Royal Exchange to celebrate the day, and also for the Poet
Laureate for several of his functions throughout the day.
Measurement and Evaluation
The Dial-a-Cab poet was interviewed on Capital Gold on the Saturday
before National Poetry Day. The competition was also mentioned in the
Times in its preview of the event.
Tully was filmed by the BBC for the One O’Clock News the day before
National Poetry Day, and part of the Poetry Breakfast was broadcast on
the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
He was also interviewed on the day by BBC Radio 5 Live Drivetime, LBC
Drivetime, and BBC News 24. Telephone interviews and photo sessions were
arranged for his local papers: the Islington Gazette and the Highbury
and Islington Express. No formal evaluation of whether awareness of
Dial-a-Cab was increased among the target audience was carried out.
The coverage for Dial-a-Cab and National Poetry Day was undoubtedly
affected by the focus on the Paddington rail crash two days earlier.
Nevertheless, while National Poetry Day is a credible event in its own
right, the unusual angle of a taxi driver writing poetry certainly
attracted attention, and may even have been timely light relief for the
media at a time when the news was dominated by the Paddington
It was the first time that Dial-a-Cab had been involved with this type
of event, and it is now planning to get involved in similar ways with
other arts events in the future.