CAMPAIGNS: Newspaper Promotion - FT on song to win new audiences

Client: The Financial Times
PR Team: Countrywide Porter Novelli
Campaign: Budget Buskers
Timescale: Feb - 23 Mar
Budget: pounds 10,000

Client: The Financial Times

PR Team: Countrywide Porter Novelli

Campaign: Budget Buskers

Timescale: Feb - 23 Mar

Budget: pounds 10,000

The Financial Times has built its reputation on assiduous financial

reporting to become one of the strongest newspaper brands in the


While having such a very clearly defined set of brand values has the

benefit of ensuring a loyal readership, it makes it more difficult for

the paper to recruit new readers from outside its traditional

constituency of CEOs and financial directors.

The marketing problem it faces is how to get new, younger readers -

primarily high-flying middle managers - to reappraise the paper and to

accept it as a broader source of information about business and personal

finance, without alienating existing users. The paper has set very

specific (and very secret) sales growth targets that buck the downward

trend in the print media.

While the Financial Times has long-running branding campaigns in place,

as a newspaper it is also perfectly suited to more tactical


The Budget is a PR gift to the newspaper, playing to its strengths and

permitting a virtuoso display of its commentating skills.

Last year the paper promoted its bumper Budget issue with a mass

briefing of taxi drivers on the implications of the Chancellor’s speech.

The taxi drivers, of course, then relayed the information to their



To position the Financial Times as the expert on a wide range of

business and financial issues and to surprise non-readers with its

relevance and accessibility.

Strategy and Plan

The aim was to ’own the Budget’ in terms of media commentary. But any

promotional idea had to be tailored primarily to broadcast media as the

chances of coverage in rival newspapers were predictably slim. The idea

of a song related to the Budget was developed as a radio-friendly device

with which to engage people’s attention.

A month before Budget day the account team sketched out some basic

lyrics set to a traditional blues tune. They enlisted the London School

of Music to help with its production and to provide performers.

The story sell-in started three days before Budget day when a tape of

the song was sent to radio stations in London. This was accompanied by

notes on leading Financial Times journalists contained in an FT-branded

leather wallet.

On Budget day itself , the final lyrics were completed with the help of

FT journalists and two teams of Budget Buskers were dispatched to

perform the FT’s Budget Blues on the streets of London, particularly

outside radio and television stations.

Measurement and Evaluation

The song performed very well. The full five-minute version was played on

Jazz FM and GLR, and extracts on Capital radio and BBC Radio 5 Live.

IRN syndicated it and it was relayed on Classic FM and News Direct.

Better still, the reactions of various FT journalists to the Budget were

aired on several radio stations and FT editor Richard Lambert was the

only journalist to appear on Newsnight that evening.


It is difficult to assess the long-term impact of such a promotion. But

newspapers are blessed (or cursed) with the perfect instant feedback in

sales figures. Next day, sales of the FT were up 15 per cent.

The decision to provide a light-hearted counterpoint to the seriousness

of the newspaper and the dull detail of the Budget proved to be the

correct one.

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