CAMPAIGNS: PUBLIC AFFAIRS - jamjar aims to transform EU auto laws

Client: Direct Line/jamjar.com



PR Team: In-house and Hill & Knowlton



Campaign: Scrap the European car block exemption



Timescale: October 2000 - ongoing



Budget: Undisclosed



jamjar.com was set up by Direct Line in July 2000 to sell cars at cheap

prices. A major obstacle to jamjar is the so-called European car block

exemption - set out in a 1995 regulation - which exempts the EU's new

car distribution system from normal free trade and competition

rules.



The exemption is estimated to add pounds 500 to the cost of a car bought

in the UK.



Under EU law the European Commission (EC) must renew, amend or scrap the

block exemption by September 2002.



Objectives



To lobby the UK government and EC to scrap or revise the exemption. To

position jamjar as a campaigner for lower prices.



Strategy and Plan



Press releases were sent to UK and Brussels-based City, motoring and

political correspondents to expose the cost of the exemption to UK car

buyers. Hill & Knowlton acted as jamjar's 'eyes and ears' in

Brussels.



A lobbying site within jamjar.com was created as an information source

for journalists and opinion-formers.



UK and EU PA activity was co-ordinated via meetings with the EC, MEPs,

DTi and OFT. Presentations were made at an EC oral hearing and meetings

with Brussels journalists.



After the oral hearing, attempts have been made to build coalitions with

concerned parties. UK and EU PA activity was co-ordinated for business

benefit and consumer PR.



Measurement and Evaluation



Seven national papers - including the FT and Guardian - have run pieces,

as have the Wall Street Journal Europe and European Voice. There have

been nine online news articles and three radio interviews, plus 25

articles in the regional press.



Results



The exemption is seen as the main obstacle to fully liberalised car

retailing and lobbying work is continuing. Direct Line has been invited

to give evidence at an EC hearing and it has been encouraged to

contribute to ongoing EC research.



Direct Line and jamjar have been positioned as credible commentators on

internet car sales in the UK and the EU.



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