FOOD AND DRINK CAMPAIGN: Great British bangers back on the menu

For ten years British Sausage Week has been a hugely successful campaign for Good Relations' key client, the Meat and Livestock Commission. The challenge in 2007 was to refresh the campaign.

Phil Tufnell: chosen to front the campaign
Phil Tufnell: chosen to front the campaign

Campaign: British Sausage Week
Client: Meat and Livestock Commission
PR Team: Good Relations
Timescale: May to November 2007
Budget: £100,000

To drive sales of pork sausages. To position sausages as a fun, wholesome and versatile family food.

Strategy and plan
The British Sausage Week team went back to the heart of the week - the sausage. Focusing on the 10th birthday celebration, a nationwide hunt for Britain's Best Birthday Banger was launched, led by cricket legend Phil Tufnell.

Tufnell was chosen as he was 'judged to capture the essence of British Sausage Week - fun, versatile and friendly'.

sausage weekPre-launch radio interviews took place in September, supported by press releases to national, regional and trade media. As well as announcing Tufnell's involvement, the releases unveiled a 10-city regional roadshow.

On launch day itself, the team delivered sausage sandwiches to every national and London radio station, while Tufnell completed 20 additional radio interviews.

Tufnell and the British Sausage Week team then hit the road for the nationwide tour, holding cook-offs and photo calls in ten 'hub' cities, and eventually crowning regional winners in the hunt for 'Britain's Best Birthday Banger' competition.

As well as the tour, the team sent Celebrity Banger Awards to the UK's biggest sausage fans.

Jonathan Ross was voted British Sausage Week's favourite comedian, while Terry Wogan was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his ongoing support of the British banger.

Good Relations also advised a partnership with charity partner, The Cystic Fibrosis Trust, to give the campaign a fundraising angle.

Measurement and evaluation
The campaign generated more than 95 pieces of print national coverage and 280 pieces of regional coverage in 2007. This was up from 50 pieces of national and 180 pieces of regional coverage in 2006.

It also generated 122 radio mentions, including every day on BBC Radio 2's Wake Up to Wogan, mentions on BBC Radio 2's The Dermot O'Leary Show, the Chris Moyles Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 1 and the Johnny Vaughan Breakfast Show on Capital FM. More than 25 pieces of television coverage were achieved, reaching an audience of more than 47 million people.

For the first time ever British Sausage Week entered the mainstream consciousness with a discussion on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross between Terry Wogan and Jonathan Ross, and Jo Brand joking about 'who she would have to sleep with to get the British Sausage Week gig' on BBC 1.

Leading brands such as Marks & Spencer, Walls and Schwartz jumped on the British Sausage Week bandwagon, launching competitions, recipes and advertisements throughout the week.

According to TNS, sausage sales increased by 125 per cent in the two weeks following British Sausage Week.

In total, the British Sausage Week campaign had a PR value of £9,290,712, and delivered a return on investment of £88 for every £1 spent.

Rob Metcalfe is MD of food and drink specialist Richmond Towers Communications

Good old-fashioned PR for a good old-fashioned product. That's what this campaign looks like. You cannot deny the results - though oddly, LexisNexis only lists 50 cuttings for British Sausage Week; four national, 46 regional; and these were not universally positive. 'It seems odd to me to be proud of lots of awful offal and fat slammed into a usually synthetic skin,' grumbled the killjoy Sunday Herald.

Rob MetcalfAnyway, a 125 per cent sales lift is fantastic by any measure. But the MLC has been running 'fun, wholesome and versatile family food' campaigns for sausages for over 35 years. The 'Three In A Row Club', the British Sausage Song Contest, the Sausage Lovers' Convention at Olympia, are all great landmarks in sausage PR history.

There have been dozens of national sausage competitions, including two great years with The Guardian as a media partner, and Matthew Fort as a fired up British sausage enthusiast and advocate. So it is easy to play it safe with sausages and get good results. The media love sausage stories.

The combination of great British tradition, phallic seaside postcard sauciness and comfort food gets 'em every time. But I do not understand the rationale for the charity link. Why cystic fibrosis? The campaign press release says: 'Good nutrition is vital for children with CF as they have difficulty digesting food.

It is important that they grow, gain weight and have energy in order to keep well enough to withstand chest infections. Sausages are a good source of protein for people with CF.' With apologies to interested parties, surely there is a more appropriate cause? It is true there is no need to disturb a winning formula, but oh for something just a bit more interesting. As history demonstrates, you can be silly with sausages and still achieve great results.

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