Campaign: Cafedirect attracts investors for its IPO - Financial PR

Campaign: Cafedirect share issue

Client: Cafedirect

PR team: Leadbetter PR/Triodos in-house

Timescale: February-May 2004

Budget: Undisclosed

Fair trade hot drinks company Cafe-direct, which pays coffee and tea growers guaranteed 'fair' prices above market rates, chose to launch an IPO on Triodos Bank's 'ethical exchange' Ethex, which has a market cap of £20m. The company chose Triodos to sponsor its share issue and hired Leadbetter PR to run its financial PR campaign in conjunction with the bank's in-house PR team.

Objectives

To raise £5m in a public offering. To use the launch as an opportunity to highlight the company's ethical business model to the City. To expand ownership of the company to consumers.

Strategy and Plan

To ensure the campaign covered as many media contacts as possible, Leadbetter and Triodos's in-house PROs worked as a single team, choosing to launch the IPO a month before Fairtrade Fortnight to give the campaign a second wind halfway through.

Since Cafedirect's primary investor targets were its consumers, the team targeted retail and catering trade magazines, in-house supermarket press, Christian print and radio media and specialist ethical and environmental titles, such as The Big Issue and Ethical Consumer. This was supported by marketing consisting of viral emails, leaflets and stickers on products.

To attract financial backers interested in ethical investment, the team mounted a PR blitz on financial specialist press and broadsheets, as well as TV and radio news outlets. The company's policy of investing 70 per cent of its pre-tax profits in growers' organisations was emphasised in press releases in a bid to raise awareness about the brand in the City.

The team offered an interview with a Tanzanian coffee and tea farmer, as well as Cafedirect CEO Penny Newman and Triodos MD Charles Middleton. This was designed to give journalists a variety of angles, as well as demonstrate the company's close relationship with farmers. Broadcast journalists were invited to film Cafedirect factories, the print media were given photographs of farmers growing tea, and Cafedirect products were sent to press contacts.

Feature angles on the attractions and benefits of ethical investment were sold in to the financial press and regional papers were given a breakdown of local investors.

Measurement and Evaluation

Nationally, coverage was achieved in 12 newspapers, including the Financial Times and Metro, and on nine TV and radio programmes. Pieces also featured in financial publications, ethical media titles, Christian media outlets and trade magazines. Regionally, 24 radio stations and 20 newspapers covered the story.

Results

Cafedirect met its target of raising £5m in a public offering in two months, the quickest time that Triodos has raised money in an ethical share issue.

The campaign generated approximately 17,000 enquiries, of which 4,500 became investors. Of these, more than 90 per cent were private, rather than institutional, investors.

'The story came across as something that would appeal to a broad consumer-friendly and mainstream audience, rather than a narrow, specialist, trade readership,' says The Guardian Jobs & Money section writer Sean Coughlan.

'They were right to present it as an opportunity to help other people by helping yourself.'

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