Campaign: Software group puts piracy on the agenda - B2C Comms

Campaign: Pirate Generation Client: Business Software Alliance PR team: Brands2Life Timescale: July-August 2004 Budget: £15,000-£20,000

The Business Software Alliance (BSA), which has members including Microsoft and Adobe, estimates one in three software packages used by UK businesses is illegal, resulting in losses to the industry of around £1bn a year. As the issue was not gaining as much coverage in general media as other intellectual-property-theft issues involving CDs and DVDs, the BSA wanted a PR push that would appeal to both the business press and beyond.


To raise awareness of software piracy. To demonstrate the problem is escalating and has links to organised crime.

To add further weight to ongoing lobbying efforts to encourage the UK Government to get tough on pirates.

Strategy and Plan

The PR team analysed previous coverage of software piracy in the consumer press and found it concentrated too much on the industry side with little coverage of consumers' perspective. The concept of the 'pirate generation' was developed, in which consumers and businesses alike were presented as showing an increasing lack of respect for intellectual property.

YouGov was commissioned to compile a survey of 2,180 people to find out who the 'pirate generation' was. This found that 44 per cent of 18 to 29-year-olds had counterfeit or pirated goods, making them the key piracy group.

The campaign was timed for August because of the 'silly-season' factor and to target a time when people holiday abroad and may come into contact with counterfeit goods. A press release was issued at the beginning of August to secure coverage in Sunday papers and in dailies throughout the following week. Broadcast specialist markettiers4dc was employed to manage the radio sell-in.

Measurement and Evaluation

The BSA's global evaluation service found mentions of the campaign in four national and seven regional newspapers, as well as on 13 online publications and wire services, two TV programmes and 95 regional radio shows. It is estimated that 92 per cent of the coverage was positive.

Those that covered the story included the Daily Star, The Daily Telegraph,, Capital FM and BBC Breakfast News.


The campaign is now part of an ongoing push that has contributed to a number of mentions by ministers on the importance of intellectual property rights.

BBC Online technology correspondent Mark Ward says: 'The BSA is very good at making people available and this was the case here. The issue of music piracy also put a gloss on this.'

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