Campaign: Zurich shrouds Nelson's Column with branding

Nelson's Column has only been scaffolded and restored three times in its 163-year history. This summer, it happened again, with the £420,000 project being sponsored by financial services provider Zurich.

Campaign Nelson's Column
Client Zurich
PR teams In-house/Publicis Consultants
Timescale May-July 2006
Budget Undisclosed

The 12-week restoration began on 26 April and ended in mid-July. Three sides of the famous erection were
covered with advertising hoardings promoting Zurich.

To generate extensive media coverage around the sponsorship. To promote Zurich to as wide an audience as possible, and build consumer awareness of, and affinity with, the insurance company.

Strategy and Plan
Zurich is the fourth-largest insurance company in the UK but has relatively low brand awareness. Marketing communications director Fiona Nicol and media relations manager Susannah Mogg hired Publicis to help them out.

The PR team took selected journalists to the top of the column to view the restoration work, including attempts to stop pigeons landing on it. It then rolled out a schools competition, ‘Honour a local hero'. Teachers' packs were mailed to 7,500 schools,  inviting children to learn more about Nelson and the restoration, and take part in a competition. Former Blue Peter presenters John Noakes (who filmed a piece on top of the landmark in the 1970s) and Peter Purves launched the competition. Purves also visited schools in a bid to generate regional coverage.

Measurement and Evaluation
The campaign was a massive media hit. The highlights were a five-minute interview with Purves and Noakes on the sofa during BBC Breakfast, as well as articles in The Sun, The Independent, London's Evening Standard and the Daily Express.

In total, there were 108 items of coverage across the country - from Caithness FM in Scotland to BBC Radio Wales.

All coverage, including photography, was branded, ensuring the Zurich name was promoted widely. The advertising value equivalent has been estimated at £430,000, and the potential audience reach was 23million.

Publicis is now working with Zurich on its wider ‘Because Change Happenz' brand campaign.

Journalist Jeremy Hildreth, who covered the story for The Wall Street Journal, says: ‘This caught the eye of the arts and leisure editor. He particularly liked the pigeon-proofing aspect of the story. As an ex-pat myself, it was a great chance to write about quirky aspects of the UK for an American readership.

Did The Wall Street Journal care that the restoration was sponsored by Zurich? No, of course not.'

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