Campaign: Darlington turns failed campaign into winner

Two years ago, Darlington Borough Council became one of three local authorities to become a Sustainable Demonstration Travel Town - which saw it share £10m of government grants to promote greener transport alternatives, such as cycling.

Campaign Do the Local Motion
Client Darlington Borough Council
PR team Karol Marketing Group and in-house team
Timescale April-August 2006
Budget Undisclosed

A campaign called ‘Town on the Move' was originally launched in 2004 but ended in calamity, with local media  branding the initiative ‘Town not on the move' - because it coincided with extensive road works. This year, the council used Karol Marketing Group to help revitalise the campaign.

To reposition the campaign away from stories about congestion and back to its core aim of encouraging sustainable transport. To raise the national profile of the council's transport policies.

Strategy and Plan
Karol decided it was vital to come up with a new slogan that would attract major stakeholders, such as local transport provider Arriva, and the public. The strapline was changed to ‘Do the Local Motion' to better reflect the campaign's core focus on environ­mentally friendly transport.

A campaign launch this April involved the town's mayor and a look-a-like of pop princess Kylie Minogue, who had a hit with the song Locomotion in 1987. The PR team thought this would add amusement to the dry
subject of green transport.

The team sent press releases about the launch to regional press, detailing how the event would include free
bikes to ride throughout the day, and the release of hundreds of branded balloons.

It also erected teaser advertising billboards and posters - showing the ‘warning ahead' transport road sign to symbolise climate change - in an effort to generate buzz around the campaign. The team also commissioned buskers to sing travel-themed songs, including Locomotion.

Over the campaign period, Darlington's commitment to sustainable transport was promoted to national press and specialist transport media via follow-up press releases. Other promotional activity included the launch of a loyalty scheme called Club Local Motion, which residents could join for free to gain campaign information as well as shopping discounts.

A linked campaign specifically targeting children, called Medal Motion, was launched in May, offering medals and prizes to children who walk or cycle to school.

Measurement and Evaluation
The story of the launch was picked up by local media including the Northern Echo and Alpha FM. National coverage included involvement in a BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour feature on cycling, and articles in magazines such as Cycling World and Transport Times.

Club Local Motion now has 3,800 members and, according to Arlington Borough Council, there has been
a 120 per cent increase in children cycling to and from school.

Northern Echo journalist Lauren Pyrah says the story successfully repositioned the region as a provider of sustainable transport.

She adds: ‘This was covered in a much more positive way than the Town on the Move campaign.'

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