SolihullActive mounts coach potato offensive

SolihullActive was designed to ­reinforce national messages on the ­importance of physical activity and ­associated health benefits. The idea was to combat couch potato culture and offer a ­local solution to the inactivity epidemic and obesity time bomb.

Campaign: SolihullActive
Client: Solihull Council
PR team: In-house
Timescale: April 2005-March 2006
Budget: Undisclosed

The borough-wide campaign aims to get more people more active, more often. At the heart of the scheme is an online database of local leisure activities listing activities and events taking place at community sports settings in the borough. Residents can also pinpoint their nearest physical activity provider by punching in their postcode.

To raise public awareness of the SolihullActive and drive, visit

Strategy and plan
The first phase of the campaign was to encourage local sport and physical ­activity providers to register and populate the database.

So the council first established contact with known providers – encouraging them to register on the new database – before targeting a range of stakeholder groups: schools and ­colleges, voluntary and community sports clubs, golf courses and private health clubs.

Partner and umbrella organisations, such as local school sports co-ordinator partnerships and the borough’s sports council, were then signed up to help disseminate information.

A media relations campaign ran throughout to reinforce messages to both existing and new partners.

News releases were issued to herald the launch of the database and highlight roadshow events. Accompanying the releases was a surreal photograph of a suited man accessing the database on a laptop computer while sitting on the edge of a diving board. Further ­activity kicked of with the registering of the 100th provider: the Centurion Running Club. This ‘landmark’ was marked with a Centurion runner posing for press photographs on the club’s athletics track alongside an actor dressed in full Roman battledress.

The public launch of Solihull­Active was in September 2005. The database was launched by former Olympic ski jumper Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards and Eddie King – Solihull’s giant couch potato mascot.

Measurement and evaluation
SolihullActive generated 75 pieces of media coverage with an estimated 4.3 million opportunities. Local newspaper coverage alone produced an advertising value equivalent of £38,000 and an overall PR value of £95,000.

The database now contains details of 270 organisations offering 5,700 hours of sport and physical activity each week.

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