CONSUMER/B2B CAMPAIGN: Europe-wide campaign on identity theft

Identity fraud is one of the world's fastest growing crimes, costing individuals and businesses in the UK alone an estimated £1.7bn a year.

Identity fraud: refuse collectors sift through people's discarded bank statements
Identity fraud: refuse collectors sift through people's discarded bank statements

Campaign: National Identity Fraud Prevention Week 2007
Client: Fellowes
PR team: Fleishman-Hillard
Timescale: May-October 2007
Budget: £100,000

For the past three years computer and office equipment firm Fellowes has staged National Identity Fraud Prevention Week to highlight the extent of the problem and to show how homes and offices can be protected.

To promote ways to combat identity fraud, such as the use of shredders. To persuade politicians that tougher laws are needed to combat the problem.

Strategy and plan
As with the previous two campaigns Fellowes' retained agency Fleishman-Hillard was instructed to handle PR activity, which centred on its three key European markets: the UK, Poland and the Netherlands.

Planning for the week, which took place from 8 to 14 October in the UK, centred on bringing official partners on board and commissioning research to present to the media during the campaign.

The bulk of the research took place from May onwards and featured public surveys on attitudes to identity fraud as well as researching the contents of people's rubbish.

Previous campaigns had involved analysis of documents at rubbish dumps but for the first time in 2007, waste experts were commissioned to sift through bins directly, outside homes in four UK cities and offices in the Netherlands.

Amy Mills, account manager at Fleishman-Hillard's UK technology practice, says a key challenge was the length of time it took to gain copy approval from more than 20 partners involved in the campaign.

The 2007 campaign had more partners than ever before, with the DVLA, Royal Mail and City of London Police among those joining regulars including the Identity and Passport Service and the Home Office.

Other partners included the Dutch Data Protection Authority and in Poland, the General Inspectorate for the Protection of Personal Data.

The campaign also featured case studies of victims of ID fraud, who were made available for interview. For the first time the campaign involved viral marketing, featuring a spoof 1950s information film to promote shredding.

Measurement and evaluation
Analysis by Fleishman-Hillard shows that in the UK the story generated 76 print clippings, including coverage in the Mail on Sunday and The Sun. There were also 132 online mentions, as well as 26 radio features. Of the 24 mentions on UK TV news programmes, one on GMTV featured a presenter joining a WasteWorks team to look through people's bins.

Coverage in the Netherlands included five broadcast mentions and 40 national and regional newspaper articles. In Poland the story attracted 56 website hits, 11 print articles, 35 radio mentions and featured on nine TV news and breakfast show programmes.

In the two weeks following the launch, sales of Fellowes shredders increased by 160 per cent in the UK, by 122 per cent in the Netherlands and 66.4 per cent in Poland. In terms of influencing legal and regulatory change Michal Serzycki, Polish general inspector of data protection, used the campaign's opening press conference to announce a toughening up of its Bill of Data Protection.

Lee Brooke, head of corporate technologies at Hill & Knowlton

With discussion around identity fraud in the UK at an all-time high, this might at first appear to be a relatively straightforward campaign to implement.

Lee BrookeHowever, there were some fundamental challenges that Fleishman-Hillard had to overcome - not least the fact that shredders are rarely perceived as exciting products.

Beyond that, they had to find ways to make a centrally driven campaign relevant in-market and manage relationships with a number of partner organisations to ensure they drove Fellowes' agenda, not their own.

Overall, this looks like a well executed campaign that brought together these disparate elements to deliver strong national press coverage. The quirky take on the tried and tested research formula of rifling through bins brought the programme to life.

It provided a way to take a product that most users - whether corporate or consumer - do not see the value in and make it really relevant to them.

The viral also brought some personality to the brand and provided another valuable channel. Above and beyond anything else, the campaign met the company's business objectives - causing a surge in sales and laying foundations for political action.

While this campaign did generate awareness and deliver a spike in sales, the bigger challenge is changing the perception of identity fraud, to drive long-term business for Fellowes.

This campaign would have been a good platform to launch a sustained thought leadership programme. Real thought leadership could be achieved by expanding comms to cover the full breadth of the issue.

For example, online fraud has grabbed the media's attention, and while Fellowes does not operate in this space, it could look to partner with an online organisation to lead the debate.

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