Gestetner is a European office equipment company which was set up
at the end of the 19th century to manufacture one of the first copying
machines, the stencil duplicator of the same name.
The company, now part of the Japanese Ricoh group, has moved with
technology and now produces digital fax machines, copiers and scanners.
But according to customer research, Gestetner’s image was still
associated with old-fashioned equipment.
The Communication Group has worked with the company for some years on
initiatives such as the Faxes for Kids project, where businesses were
asked to donate their old fax machines to schools, and was brought in to
run a project to update the company’s image.
To link the Gestetner name in the UK with the cutting edge of digital
technology in the eyes of the public. More specifically, the company
wanted to boost sales by targeting IT managers - a different audience
from its traditional customer base of office equipment managers.
Strategy and Plan
The client and agency decided that a connection with digital art would
be an interesting and creative way to demonstrate Gestetner’s focus on
leading edge technology.
The Communication Group researched the leading digital art experts and
established links with the Royal College of Art, the London Science
Museum, and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, all of which have strong
media visibility and a presence on the internet.
It was decided that the campaign would encompass two strands - the
commissioning of a giant work of interactive digital art and a student
The Gestetner Digital Wave, by digital artist Julie Freeman, was a 50ft
long structure made from tarpaulin over copper piping. This was
connected to a video camera at one end and two Gestetner colour printers
at the other. The video camera captured the image of a participant and
four video cameras suspended from the ceiling projected the image onto
The image then travelled along the wave and could be transformed by
participants shouting at it or touching it. The image could then be
reproduced on the colour printers, and then on T-shirts, for visitors to
A variety of media were targeted with news about the wave and the
competition, from arts and IT correspondents to the office equipment
trade press, as well as national newspapers and television.
More than 10,000 of Gestetner’s commercial targets were invited to a
launch event at the London Science Museum to unveil the wave itself.
The wave was then exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Arts for a
week to launch the second part of the campaign, the Gestetner Digital
This was a challenge to the students in the computer-related design
department at the Royal College of Art to create works of art using the
latest in digital technology, with the theme of ’information flow and
Ten entries were developed to prototype and five winners selected for a
week-long exhibition at the Royal College of Art. A private viewing was
also organised for select media and customers.
Measurement and Evaluation
The Digital Wave was featured on BBC1’s Tomorrow’s World, Blue Peter and
Radio 5 Live, as well as electronic media, reaching an estimated
audience of ten million. There was also coverage in the Times, the
Express and the Evening Standard, and 30 items in the trade and
During the period of the campaign sales of Gestetner’s products
increased by 25 per cent in the UK, the highest growth ever
The campaign was the winner of the Overall Institutional Award in the
1999 IPRA Golden World Awards for Excellence. The Communications Group
managed to make office equipment sexy by positioning it as a part of the
digital revolution in many areas, including art.
Campaign: Gestetner Digital Art Experience
PR Team: The Communication Group
Timescale: October 1998 to February 1999
Budget: pounds 130,000