Teddyfone answers call on health and safety

The Teddyfone is a new safety phone aimed at children aged between four and ten. It was developed by brothers-in-law Simon Holland, MD of Teddyfone plc, and Paul Liesching, founder of CellClear, a provider of cut-price landline-to-mobile call rates.

Teddyfone answers call on health and safety
Campaign UK launch of Teddyfone
Client Teddyfone plc (owned by CellClear)
PR team Cow PR
Timescale September - November 2005
Budget £15,000

Aware that promoting a mobile phone for children may cause controversy, last September Teddyfone appointed Cow PR to prepare for a media launch on 28 November and fight any media backlash.

To create debate around children and mobile phone usage in order to deliver messages about health, safety and marketing issues. To counter potential detractors, such as the Health Protection Agency, whose chairman Sir William Stewart last year advised parents to discourage use of mobile phones by children under eight.

Strategy and Plan
According to a 2005 report from Wireless World Forum, 25 per cent of children under the age of ten in Europe already have access to a mobile phone, so Cow decided to flag up Teddyfone's potential for parental choice and control.

All launch materials focused on health and safety issues, such as the device's emissions being up to ten times lower than a conventional mobile, and that a special 'SOS button' and optional child-tracking service let parents know where their child is, providing peace of mind.

In addition, the PR team highlighted that with a teddy design, no screen and only four buttons for parents to pre-programme phone numbers, users were protected from potential mugging, text message bullying, calls from strangers and access to inappropriate adult material.

To give the launch more weight, Cow commissioned a survey from Experian to find out which factors influenced parents' decision to buy their child a mobile phone.

The results – showing that despite health worries, parents would give their child a mobile if it improved the child's sense of well-being and personal safety – were issued under embargo for release on launch day.

Liesching, received media training to help establish responses to anticipated objections about children's health, safety and perceived marketing to under-16s. In addition, Anna Khan, CEO of parental advice charity Parentalk, trialled the phone with her children for a week and subsequently acted as an independent spokesperson, conducting a morning of radio interviews with Liesching.

Measurement and Evaluation
The story achieved more than 80 media hits, including 44 broadcast items on ITN, Channel 4 News, BBC London, BBC Look East, Radio Five Live, LBC and other regional stations.

Initial interest from the Press Association and The Daily Telegraph also helped generate 11 online articles and 32 print pieces in national and regional titles including The Sun, The Guardian and the Daily Mail.

Teddyfone took more than 1,000 orders on its first day and the firm claims enquiries about its direct-to-consumer-only product increased from six per day pre-launch, to six per minute post-launch. The Daily Telegraph's science and medical correspondent, Nic Fleming, who interviewed Liesching, says the Teddyfone MD 'had good answers to some of the issues surrounding children owning mobiles'.

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