tries to build more 'trustworthy' image

LONDON - Online retailer Amazon UK is to portray itself as 'open and honest' in a mainstream media drive to counter consumer uncertainty about purchasing goods on the web.

Looking to avoid the trust issues that have plagued online rivals such as eBay, Amazon has hired Brave PR to handle consumer PR for its "hardline" products -- sold through the Electronics & Photo, Toys & Games and Home & Garden pages of the site.

PR activity will stress Amazon's approach to online retail, which it says is epitomised by its genuine customer reviews. "The theme of the campaign will be that Amazon tells it like it is," Brave PR board director Mel Burr, who leads the account, said.

She added that Amazon will promote plain speaking and honesty in its campaign.

Burr said Amazon's PR efforts will be focused on mainstream media as its target audience is "anybody with access to the internet", and will include long-lead titles and news-based media to give it the flexibility to respond to trends and market forces.

"The campaign will comprise a number of planned big-hit initiatives spread throughout the year," she said.

Brave picked up the account after a six-way pitch against BMA, Brands2Life, Resonate, Paratus Communications and incumbent The Red Consultancy, which had worked on the brand for five years.

PR for books, DVDs and music is handled by Idea Generation, whose remit was unaffected by the pitch.

Amazon's global sales reached £780m for the third quarter of 2004, up 29% on the previous year.

Sales from its UK, German, French, Japanese and Chinese sites accounted for 44 per cent of global sales in the quarter.

Last month, Amazon UK entered the DVD rental market to compete with brands such as Blockbuster and ScreenSelect.

The online retailer -- best known for selling books -- is keen to publicise its other product lines, including electronic hardware such as DVD players, cameras, phones, home entertainment systems, computer software, plus toys and games.

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