Campaigns: Finance - Age UK offers a silver lining to the over-55s

Campaign: The launch of Silver RPI
Client: Age UK Enterprises
PR team: Teamspirit PR
Timescale: October-November 2010
Budget: £9,200

In April 2010, Age Concern and Help The Aged merged to form Age UK, the largest charity in the UK dedicated to tackling the issues of ageing. The merger also brought together the commercial arms of both charities into Age UK Enterprises, an organisation providing financial products and services to more than 1.1 million customers.

OBJECTIVES

- To raise awareness of Age UK Enterprises

- To position Age UK Enterprises as the expert on financial issues in later life

- To remove the 'one-size-fits-all' approach to financial products for those aged upwards of 55.

STRATEGY AND PLAN

The PR team came up with the idea of the Age UK 'Silver RPI' (retail price index), a single measure of the cost of living for those aged 55 and upwards, to give an accurate snapshot of the financial reality for those in later life.

The idea was to show the broad range of customers in the 55-plus market, and to highlight products from Age UK Enterprises, such as travel and car insurance, with no upper age limit. Teamspirit worked with inflation specialists Fathom Financial Consulting and partnered with its ex-Bank of England inflation economists to put together the Silver RPI.

This was based on data used to compile headline RPI, but calculated using five age groups over 55, to include all income bands and housing costs.

The PR team then set up a roundtable with key stakeholders and media, and secured chief BBC economics correspondent Hugh Pym as chair. The roundtable was held two days ahead of the media launch of the Silver RPI.

A white paper was put together around the methodology and findings, and included comments from Age UK Enterprises and Fathom Consulting's CEOs.

The white paper was made available for the roundtable event and then published online on Age UK's website.

The story was released to the media to coincide with the Bank of England's quarterly inflation report. It was sold in to print, broadcast and online media, as well as to key bloggers and individuals on Twitter.

MEASUREMENT AND EVALUATION

The story generated 125 print and online articles and 11 broadcast items.

Highlights included stories in The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Times, The Mail on Sunday, on bbc.co.uk, on Yahoo and MSN Money, and in regional publications including the Lancashire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post. Broadcast outlets covering the story included BBC Breakfast news, BBC News 24 and Radio 5 Live.

RESULTS

The roundtable event was attended by journalists from The Mail on Sunday and Which? Money. In the first week after launch, the Silver RPI was downloaded more than 800 times from the Age UK website. Age UK Enterprises has now decided to make the Silver RPI a quarterly publication, to become the most accurate measure of inflation for those aged upwards of 55.

SECOND OPINION - Simon Francis, Managing partner, Band & Brown

The Silver RPI provided a fresh take on a well-established media favourite.

The strategy of launching a new variant retail price index on the day of official Bank of England quarterly inflation numbers was a calculated risk and one managed through a successful programme of pre-briefings, a roundtable and adept media handling.

The resulting media coverage drove the news agenda and generated hundreds of downloads of the official report. The impact of the research is still being felt, with recent coverage in national and trade media.

However, looking at the Age UK website and public presence, it is difficult to understand how this momentum generated for Age UK Enterprises was being maximised and followed up. Natural search for 'Age UK Enterprises' does not take consumers direct to the commercial services arm of Age UK, and it would have been great to see the Silver RPI go on to become a campaigning platform for the wider Age UK organisation.

In future, it will be interesting to see if even more can be made of the message that the reason the silver audience is suffering so much is because it gets fed 'onesize-fits-all' products and if the swell created by the media appetite for the Silver RPI can be harnessed to boost SEO rankings for ageuk.org.uk/buy.

Such moves could shift the focus of the Silver RPI from positioning Age UK Enterprises as a thought leader to a real consumer finance champion.

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