CAMPAIGNS: Online motor insurer beats expectations - Consumer PR

Client: Confused.com PR Team: Grayling PR Campaign: Launch of Confused.com, an online car insurance search service Timescale: January - February 2003 Budget: £17,000

Confused.com claims to save car insurance buyers time and an average of £150 on every policy purchased, by tracking down the cheapest deal from its database of online insurers.

With these selling points, Confused.com hoped to catch the eye of journalists and generate the big media splash required to launch into a marketplace where online car insurers already jostle for space.

Objectives

To make Confused.com the first port of call for anyone looking to buy car insurance, and position it as a credible service for insurers.

Strategy and Plan

Grayling kicked off the campaign by targeting insurance firms: Confused.com has 92 per cent of online car insurers on its database, but is looking to sign up new providers.

The agency approached Insurance Times to run a piece on how Confused.com can match insurers with their ideal customer, and then embarked on the main consumer drive, by sending out a press release explaining how the online insurer works.

A second press release about research findings that Britons waste £3bn a year by paying over the odds for car insurance was sent to finance, online and motoring journalists. Grayling narrowed the findings down to individual cities and targeted regional media.

As young, internet-savvy males were also a target audience, Grayling went to the Autosport International Show at the Birmingham NEC to distribute 20,000 flyers offering the prize of a day at Brands Hatch.

The agency sent out a third release in February, stating that Confused.com had saved UK consumers £2m in its first month of trading.

Measurement and Evaluation

Confused.com claims it gained twice the number of press cuttings as competitors Direct Line and Churchill. Press coverage included The Independent, The Sun, Daily Express, Daily Mirror, Manchester Evening News, Yorkshire Evening Post, Metro, The Birmingham Post, Liverpool Daily Post and South Wales Argus.

Radio Swansea, Orchard FM in Somerset, BBC Derby and BBC West Midlands were among the radio stations to cover the story. The leafleting push has resulted in 2,000 enquiries to date.

Results

'The fact considerable savings could be made, and the figures were from Manchester made it a good story,' says Manchester Evening News personal finance editor Peter Sharples. Insurance Times web reporter Tristan O'Carroll appreciated the insurance background information, but felt it was too focused on the consumers, rather than the insurers.

As consumers are asked where they heard about the service before they enter the website, Confused.com was able to calculate that PR was responsible for eight per cent of all new customers gained - three per cent higher than Grayling's original estimate. The latest figure, for April, has risen to ten per cent.

As a result, Confused.com has retained Grayling PR for a further 12 months.

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