CAMPAIGNS: Product PR - Surf’s up for WI’s latest naked launch

Client: Lever Brothers
Campaign: Launch of Surf with Sun
PR Team: Freud Communications
Timescale: Jan - Apr 2000
Budget: Undisclosed

Client: Lever Brothers

Campaign: Launch of Surf with Sun

PR Team: Freud Communications

Timescale: Jan - Apr 2000

Budget: Undisclosed

To launch its new laundry detergent, Surf with Sun Fresh, Lever Brothers

and its consumer PR agency Freud Communications decided to join forces

with the Rylstone Women’s Institute (WI) from Yorkshire.

Last year, Rylstone WI raised thousands of pounds, and a few smiles,

with a calendar in aid of the charity Leukaemia Research Fund. Posing as

pin-ups, its members were photographed carrying out a variety of

traditional WI activities - such as cake-baking and flower arranging -

completely naked.

Based on this campaign the PR team decided that these women possessed a

down-to-earth and hard-working image, combined with an ’if we can do it,

why can’t you?’ attitude that was ideal for reaching potential customers

of Surf with Sun Fresh.


To gain awareness of the launch of Surf with Sun Fresh among a target

audience of 25- to 45-year-old mothers, and create interest in the new

variant of the Surf brand.

Strategy and Plan

In January, Freud approached Rylstone Women’s Institute asking its

members to appear in a two-week billboard campaign to promote Lever

Brothers’ new product.

The WI agreed, feeling that the Surf brand fitted its image of ordinary

women making the most of their opportunities. However, its members were

also keen to raise more money for the Leukaemia Research Fund.

Lever Brothers agreed to use the charity’s logo in its posters and

donate the Rylstone women’s fee to the cause.

To raise awareness of the launch, Freud sent out a press release and

visuals to the media a week before the posters were due to appear.

On 26 and 27 March, all ten of the Rylstone WI members attended a host

of interviews with the press and broadcasters, to talk about their

involvement with Surf and their commitment to the Leukaemia Research


On 1 April, the residents of London, Manchester and Glasgow woke up to

find the women of Rylstone promoting new Surf with Sun Fresh and

Leukaemia Research Fund on high-profile 96-sheet billboard sites,

completely naked.

The poses aped the 1990s anti-fur campaign fronted by supermodels

proclaiming they would rather go naked than wear fur. The WI version

carried the strapline: ’We’d rather go naked than go without Sun


Measurement and Evaluation

As PR Week went to press, the results of this campaign were still

rolling in, so formal evaluation has yet to take place. However, the

media loved the return of Yorkshire’s favourite calendar girls and

coverage of the posters was splashed across many of the national daily

newspapers, including the Times, the Daily Mail and the Express, plus

more than 15 regional newspapers.

The campaign has also gained extensive broadcast coverage from the likes

of Radio 2, ITV’s live daytime show, Loose Women, and national and

regional BBC and ITV new bulletins.


This campaign provided Lever Brothers with a winning product launch

featuring bare flesh and a worthwhile cause, which Freud Communications

delivered in a package that made consumers and the media smile.

’It is true that this is an unconventional approach to promoting the

launch of a detergent product. However, being fun and different is what

the Surf brand is all about,’ says Patrick Kaltois, brand manager for

Surf with Sun Fresh.

The profile of the Rylstone Women’s Institute has been further boosted

with news that Disney has bought the rights to their story and is

planning to make a film about their exploits.

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