Young Person's Railcard tries to sex up its image - Consumer

Campaign: Sexy in the City Client: Young Person's Railcard/Association of Train Operating Companies PR team: Mantra PR Timescale: May-August 2005 Budget: £24,000

Research commissioned by the Young Person's Railcard (YPR) marketing team revealed that although 60 per cent of 16 to 25-year-olds were aware of the scheme, only a quarter of them used the cards.

Mantra PR was briefed to create an engaging personality for the card and help drive sales.

Objectives

To encourage young people to adopt the brand. To gain national and local press coverage beyond the travel pages and alert broadcast media to the card's revamp. To establish a theme with longevity.

Strategy and Plan

Mantra devised a national search for 'Britain's sexiest city' in a bid to attract the attention of the target audience. This was a bold move for YPR, which had focused traditionally only on the card's functional benefits.

The campaign was focused around www.sexyinthecity.co.uk, where users could upload photographs of themselves and vote for their desired city.

The Association of Train Operating Companies called in online marketing agency Profero to work alongside Mantra and promote the microsite.

Mantra issued press releases to publicise the competition and announce the winners. Releases were tailored to play on perceived rivalries between cities, which proved to be the angle favoured by the media.

One of the biggest challenges was that the 7 July London bombings occurred a week after the campaign's launch. Mantra delayed proceedings for two weeks before asking people to vote for their 'sexiest city'.

Measurement and Evaluation

The campaign generated coverage across broadcast outlets and regional newspapers. The URL of the website appeared in 65 per cent of coverage, which included 27 radio items and mentions on BBC news bulletins.

Results

The microsite received over 79,000 hits, while 349 photos were uploaded with 12,487 votes cast. After Chelmsford won the competition, the Essex Chronicle launched its own search for the sexiest city, and several regional papers covered the story. But no figures are available to determine whether railcard sales improved.

Newsline Scotland Press Agency reporter Gordon Lyon, who sold the story in to several Scottish tabloids, says: 'This story idea caught my attention mainly because it offered me the chance to write a quirky, potentially funny story that the nationals could be interested in.

'I could use local contacts to write a story with a national angle along the lines of "Aberdeen and Fort William are sexier than the rest".'

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