Totalise.net 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 Totalise.net 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
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 publications.Totalise.net’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 Totalise.net went from being an unknown internet
service provider to a viable competitor with a unique selling point
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. Totalise.net 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