CAMPAIGNS: Users get a share of the ISP action - Hi-tech PR was formed in April 1999 by Peter Gregory, an MP and keen internet user, who found aspects of existing packages frustrating. was formed in April 1999 by Peter Gregory, an MP and

keen internet user, who found aspects of existing packages


Three years ago, he decided to create a user-friendly package for the

web. This included creating a search engine which only gives official

sites with UK entities and saves time in accessing information.

Gregory also had the idea of adding value to the package with the

’World’s First Web Windfall’ to the package, which meant the first

25,000 subscribers would receive pounds 50 worth of shares from day one.


To launch the new internet service provider - Totalise - by making the

media and the public aware of the brand.

The aim was to overcome internet fatigue and to stand out from

competitors by maximising on the unique selling point of the free shares

offer. Countrywide Porter Novelli and Merlin Financial were given just

14 days to achieve the objectives.

Strategy and Plan

The launch of Totalise was planned for 28 July. Because the internet

field is so competitive, high security surrounded the campaign, which

made it difficult to attract interest without giving secrets away.

Countrywide Porter Novelli sent out a series of three cryptic mailers to

200 newspapers and magazines, on the theme of a ’win-win situation’.

On the day of the launch, a photocall was held in the City to promote

the ’surfing the net’ theme. Gregory was photographed with 20 male and

female surfers dressed in Baywatch-style swimsuits, outside the old

Stock Exchange.

Countrywide also sent one of the surfers to London radio stations. The

national papers were drawn in by the surfing visuals and the Express and

the Sun both published photos. Regional newspapers were also


Merlin Financial used its experience of the City to get exposure about

the free shares in more specialist’s

management team was specially trained to deal with calls from the


There were ten interviews on the day of the launch, including the

Guardian and the Financial Times. Interest was maintained by holding

another photocall on a surf beach in Cornwall on 23 August, when share

certificates were delivered to the most southerly subscriber.

Measurement and Evaluation

The campaign achieved coverage in most of the daily papers, which

praised the Baywatch-themed launch. The Express also featured a

half-page colour photo.

The target of 25,000 subscribers in three months looks well within

reach, with 18,500 subscribers already on-line. Feedback from

subscribers was positive, with users pleased by the level of



The widespread media coverage on two levels, by Countrywide and Merlin

Financial, ensured that went from being an unknown internet

service provider to a viable competitor with a unique selling point

within weeks.

The interest is ongoing. Merlin secured an interview with Gregory in the

Investors Chronicle, due out later in September. The shares have proved

a popular incentive and the original pounds 50 worth are currently

valued at nearly pounds 75. is also now in a good position

to launch additional services.


PR Team: Countrywide Porter Novelli/Merlin Financial

Campaign: The launch of new ISP Totalise

Timescale: July 1999

Budget: undisclosed

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