eBay rival hunts agency for UK consumer push

CQout, the UK-based company seeking to challenge auction powerhouse eBay, is to crank up PR by bringing in an agency for a major ­national consumer-lifestyle campaign.

The website, which claims to be the second most popular auction site in the UK and whose name is pronounced ‘seek you out', has already brought in New Media Maze to run an online international consumer campaign.

But the company is also in talks with agencies about a campaign focused on ­national and lifestyle media to attract more users.

‘Given that we are an ­online retailer, developing a more significant online presence seemed to be our first ­priority,' said CQout founder and creative director Tony Newton.

He added: ‘But we also want to attract a new audience: perhaps those who haven't used an online auction site before. We have already started talking to a handful of agencies about developing that into an offline PR campaign to launch sometime next year.'

CQout was set up in 1999 by Newton and two fellow London Business School graduates: Siamack Bashi, now the company's CEO, and Mike Rees, who passed away last year.

CQout seeks to differentiate itself from eBay by ­emphasising its customer- service provision and by ­running checks on users' credit-ratings before they can register and start buying and selling, said Newton.

It is the first time the ­company has developed any kind of proactive marketing campaign. PR activity will seek to emphasise the safety of buying and selling on the site.

More than half of British adults now regularly sell items online via websites such as eBay, according to a recent survey by Orange Broadband.

‘We were never part of the dotcom "boom-and-bust" companies but have looked to the long term, and to grow organically,' said Newton.

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