Client: Direct Line/jamjar.com
PR Team: In-house and Hill & Knowlton
Campaign: Scrap the European car block exemption
Timescale: October 2000 - ongoing
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
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.
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
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.
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.