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
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