Campaign: Britain's Most Energetic Boss
PR team: Target Public Relations/in-house
Timescale: September 2004 to February 2005
In 2004, Powergen launched a PR strategy aimed specifically at the UK's 3.8 million SMEs. To talk to these potential customers, Powergen and its retained agency, Cheltenham-based Target Public Relations, developed a competition to find 'Britain's most energetic boss'. Open to firms employing up to 250 staff, this contest offered one winner the prize of a three-week holiday in New Zealand, with European weekend breaks for five runners-up.
To sustain Powergen's reputation for energy knowledge and build a relationship with SMEs, covering the issue of energy consumption at work.
To position Powergen as positive, human and engaging, as personified by the 'Bob' TV ads, starring comedian Simon Day.
Strategy and Plan
The thrust of Britain's Most Energetic Boss was to identify the company chief whose staff thought demonstrated the most commitment to making a difference to the lives of those around him.
The PR team chose the Daily Mirror as an ideal launch title, as its weekly Mirror Works section devotes a significant amount of space to coverage of smaller businesses. Other national, regional and trade media received a straightforward press release calling for entries.
As Powergen has no high-street presence, it was particularly important that all press material flagged up the competition website and the online entry form. A judging panel, including representatives from Business Link, scored ten finalists; in December the overall winner, Poole chip-shop owner Ken McKenzie, was unveiled.
McKenzie took part in a photoshoot with Day, while relevant local, regional and trade publications received separate stories about the runners-up.
Measurement and Evaluation
According to Millward Brown Precis, Britain's Most Energetic Boss created more than ten million positive opportunities to see. This included the Manchester Evening News, Lancashire Telegraph, Leicester Mercury, Printing World, Caterer & Hotelkeeper and Hairdressers Journal.
BBC Online picked up the story, and BBC Radio 5 Live ran a three-minute interview with McKenzie in its drive-time programme, in which Powergen was name-checked four times.
Regional media also gave the story legs, with a feature in Bournemouth's Daily Echo and 21 pieces on local commercial station Wave FM in one morning. In February, Target arranged for McKenzie's chip shop to appear on a live segment of the BBC's Working Lunch.
Powergen is unwilling to supply figures for the number of entries or website hits that the competition generated. However, it says that it considers the campaign such a success that the search for 2005's most energetic boss will be launched next month.
Mirror Works career editor Tricia Phillips says the competition was 'a good way to promote better leadership skills among small businesses in a fun way'. She adds: 'The PR team came up with loads of clever ideas around the competition, which showed it had really thought it out.'
Zoe Arden, managing director of Golin Harris, has handled PR for Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Target found a way of making the usually dry subject of energy consumption at work interesting to SMEs and a wider consumer audience.
The concept of the search for 'Britain's most energetic boss' was a neat tie-in with the Powergen brand. There was an implicit link to 'power' and the brand values of being positive, human and engaging were most certainly reinforced.
Linking the competition with other forms of marketing, such as the TV ads through the use of Simon Day photoshoots, was a good way to achieve brand synergy and court consumer press.
But it would have been smart to choose runners-up from different industries to reach a broader range of media.
To further build relationships with SMEs and coverage in the trade press, the competition could have been run in tandem with incentives to change energy supplier, to reinforce Powergen's message of energy expertise.
It's disappointing, however, that Powergen was unwilling to disclose the number of entries or web hits - without this information it is difficult to quantify success beyond the coverage mentioned.
But if executed well, the campaign has the potential to grow on the initial success of 2004.