Client: Simon Ware-Lane Holdings
PR Team: Gavin Anderson
Campaign: Purchase of rival Claims Direct
Timescale: From mid-August for four weeks
Simon Ware-Lane owned five per cent of personal injury specialist
ClaimLine and wanted to purchase rival, Claims Direct.
In summer 2000, Claims Direct was in financial trouble having lost 95
per cent of its shareprice value following a spate of negative press
coverage and a DTI inquiry into its business practices.
The company, its management and the whole 'no win no fee' personal
injury business had lost credibility. Ware-Lane - an unknown with an
unusual background - was attempting a rescue.
Gavin Anderson had a number of objectives. Ultimately the goal was to
help Ware-Lane secure control of the company.
Firstly, it was necessary to convince the Takeover Panel his rescue was
in the shareholders' best interests and then convincing the shareholders
to accept his offer. Part of the brief was also to rehabilitate the
personal injury business - Claims Direct had been dubbed 'Shames Direct'
by The Sun.
Ware-Lane and ClaimLine had to be seen to be offering a better business
model and more credible management. Gavin Anderson worked closely with
lawyers Ashurst Morris Crisp in handling liaison with the Takeover
Strategy and Plan
The first task was to introduce Ware-Lane and his record to the
Until the deal was approved by the Takeover Panel, no details of it
could be discussed, so the agency had little room for manoeuvre and the
first one-on-one briefings were mostly concerned with correcting
After the deal was announced there was a campaign of intensive media
relations, with Ware-Lane encouraged to speak freely about his past. He
was positioned as a 'Barnado's Boy made good'.
The tactic was to allow his determination and feelings about the
socially-responsible nature of what he was doing, to come through.
In defending the personal injury business against charges of ambulance
chasing, the tactic was to pick up on the way Ware-Lane justified it,
and adopt his language. He said it was about 'giving people access to
justice', and highlighted the fact that the business filled a niche
created by the removal of eligibility for legal aid from these
Measurement and Evaluation
Gavin Anderson secured substantial personal coverage for Ware-Lane. In
the process, the ClaimLine business model and the personal injury
business were both recognised as legitimate.
As a result, the deal went through and Ware-Lane acquired the
Claims Direct retained Golin/Harris Ludgate but the account was resigned
shortly after completion of the deal and Gavin Anderson is among those
companies now pitching for the business.
In its choice of language and decision to suggest continuity between the
personal injury 'no win no fee' business and the decision to remove
eligibility for legal aid from such cases, the agency went a long way to
legitimising a business that many people had come to regard as
counter-productive and socially corrosive.