CAMPAIGNS: Frank gains publicity for Ellesse range - Consumer PR

In April, Ellesse, the fourth largest sportswear brand in the UK, launched a national poster ad campaign called For Play, promoting its summer clothing range.

Devised in-house, the various ads featured raunchy images of a couple wearing the latest Ellesse designs, while getting intimate on a rain-lashed tennis court.

To support the campaign and score maximum impact with target consumers, the brand used its retained agency Frank PR.


To amplify the ad campaign by generating interest in the media and creating word-of-mouth around the launch, while communi-cating Ellesse's positioning as 'the sensual Italian sports brand'.

Strategy and Plan

During the planning stage of the campaign, the PR team discovered that a banner execution of the ad, set to run across the front of Birmingham's town hall, had been refused planning permission by the city council on account of its provocative imagery.

This was used as a news-hook for the media, with The Sun running coverage of the launch under the headline: 'The ad that is too sexy for Brum'.

The second strand of the campaign focused on Danish model Anine Bing, who was using the ad to make her UK debut.

Frank PR set about positioning her as the 'next Helena Christensen', securing photo-shoots and interviews with titles including The Sunday People, Maxim and Front magazine.

To create a buzz with younger consumers and drive traffic to Ellesse's website (, Frank PR also seeded a 40-second movie clip bringing the ad to life, with its database of HVPs (Highly Viral People) and viral websites such as

Measurement and Evaluation

Within a week of the campaign breaking, the ad was featured in the editorial pages of six national newspapers, including The Sunday Times and the News of The World, plus 50 regional newspapers and radio stations, including Birmingham-based BRMB.

Carlton TV launched a campaign to lobby for the ad to be reconsidered for approval by Birmingham City Council, with one of its Six O'Clock News bulletins running a ten-minute item, featuring a virtual image of the ad superimposed across the town hall.


The forplay website received more than 100,000 unique visits in the first week of the campaign, while the viral clip was downloaded from on more than 19,000 occasions.

In addition, a consumer audit conducted by Ellesse showed that more than 80 per cent of people aware of the For Play ad campaign had read about it, rather than seen the images in situ.

Initial feedback from the Ellesse sales division indicates a 42 per cent week-on-week increase in sales volume for the clothing range in the week immediately after the launch of the For Play campaign.

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