Stena Line drafts in BGB for two-pronged attack

Europe’s largest ferry operator has switched its UK PR support as it bids to reverse falling passenger numbers and raise its corporate profile.

Stena Line's passenger sales fell by eight per cent in 2005, with car volumes dropping by seven per cent. It has taken on BGB Communications to target consumers and the travel industry.

The operator, which carries 17 million people a year on routes between the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia, has invested nearly £330m in its fleet over the past few years.

It has renovated its boats' interiors to create 'attractive onboard environments' and help fight off competition from no-frills airlines.
Corporate comms project manager Anna-Karin Blomqvist said BGB would promote the comfort and convenience factor to customers through national, travel and consumer press.

'We have 20 crossings a day from the UK to Ireland and three from Harwich to Holland,' she said. 'You can take your car, which you
wouldn't be able to do if you travelled by air, and our ferries offer quality shopping and entertainment.'

Blomqvist added that the Swedish-owned operator's corporate profile in the UK 'does not match its status as Europe's biggest ferry company'. She said it needed a concerted campaign to promote the brand within the travel industry.

BGB replaces three-and- a-half-year incumbent Brave PR, which was Stena's first external agency when appointed (PRWeek, 16 August 2002).

BGB managing director Debbie Hindle said it would work closely with individual route managers as well as Stena's central comms team in Gothenburg.

Stena continues to use GCAS for PR in Ireland.

Blomqvist said the company was seeking more efficiency from its UK and Ireland PR support. Fees for the account are understood to be just over £100,000.

Falling passenger numbers and rising oil costs have been offset by Stena's booming freight business, which accounts for around 40 per cent of sales.

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