CAMPAIGN: New books for Rough Guides’ 25th birthday

Rough Guides: celebrated its quarter century with a unique sales campaign
Rough Guides: celebrated its quarter century with a unique sales campaign

Campaign: Rough Guides’ 25th birthday
Client: Rough Guides
PR Team: MB Communications and in-house
Timescale: December to May 2007
Budget: £15,000

Rough Guides publishes more than 350 titles focused on travel and reference subjects including the internet and ethical living.

In May 2007, the publisher celebrated its 25th birthday, issuing a limited edition series of mini books called 25s. These featured 25 short volumes, each containing details of 25 ultimate global experiences.

To engage consumers in Rough Guides’ 25th anniversary and its celebratory series of books through media interest and debate. To drive sales of Rough Guides 25s and the standard books and increase traffic to

Strategy and plan
To secure mass market appeal and promote the firm’s assets, the PR team flagged up the 25-year journey of Rough Guides’ founders, Mark Ellingham and Martin Dunford. The pair were offered for interview and positioned as the “gurus” behind the brand.

This was backed by a podcast interview with the duo and The Independent’s travel editor, Simon Calder, plus a catalogue of visuals featuring a range of Rough Guides ultimate exper­iences, free of charge.

With a veritable library of travel themes and destinations to exploit, the PR team were able to offer bespoke editorial angles. Regional titles were pitched the 25 ultimate experiences to be enjoyed in Britain and Ireland.

The campaign launched with The Times as unofficial partner. Over a four-week period, the paper offered a cover-mounted 25 in conjunction with Starbucks, while Times 2 ran an exclusive four-page feature, extracts of which ran on Times Online with links to the Rough Guides website. This helped engage bloggers and online commentators.

Measurement and evaluation
The campaign generated 24 broadcast, 22 national newspaper, 30 magazine and 26 online articles. Highlights inc­luded launch coverage on BBC Breakfast and BBC News 24, interviews
on Radio 4’s You and Yours and British Airways in-flight radio service, plus front-cover stories in the Sunday Mirror magazine and Guard­ian Travel.

Debate about what was included in the British and Ireland book also app­eared on BBC News Online, Radio 2 and in The Daily Telegraph, Metro and other regionals.

Volume sales of the Rough Guides 25s series rose by 102 per cent from the week following publication (6 to 12 May) to the subsequent week (13 to 19 May). Moreover, in the four-week per­iod following launch, 24 of the 25 titles were ranked in the Travel and Holiday Guides category of the Neilson Book­scan Chart.

In May, unique visits to the Rough Guides website rose by an average 23 per cent. Since then, Rough Guides has established partnerships with Ben and Jerry’s music festival, held
in July, and adventure clothing brand FatFace.

‘Travel and airlines is always a goer,’ says Kathryn Wilgress, producer at Somethin’ Else, which interviewed Ellingham for British Airways High Life radio. ‘But what stood out for me was the amount of background information I received. It all arrived as if the PR team had read my mind.’



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