Bank of Scotland means business

Campaign £25m Entrepreneur Challenge Client Bank of Scotland Corporate PR team In-house and Euro RSCG Biss Lancaster Timescale May-December 2007 Budget Undisclosed, but estimated to be in excess of £250,000

When Bank of Scotland Corporate chief executive Peter Cummings told staff that ‘entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of our economy and are responsible for some of the most spectacular business successes this country has seen’, it paved the way for the launch of the £25m Entrepreneur Challenge. It was billed as the ‘single largest initiative to stimulate and harness the country’s entrepreneurial spirit that the banking sector had ever seen’.

The challenge was to find the UK’s brightest business talent, with a huge prize fund of £25m and pre-eminent judges that included Sir Philip Green.

The bank’s in-house marketing function teamed up with Euro RSCG Biss Lancaster’s Manchester office.


To launch the challenge through regional, local and trade media
To encourage businesses to enter the awards and help the event gain traction throughout each key stage
To position Bank of Scotland Corporate as the first choice bank for entrepreneurs

Strategy and plan

The UK was split into five regions, with the applications from each region being reduced to a shortlist of five. These five then faced a grilling from a panel of judges, including high-profile entrepreneurs such
as John Madejski, before the winner was announced at a regional dinner. This left five winners, one from each region, competing for the title of ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ and a prize of four days’ mentoring from the retail tycoon Sir Philip Green.

The bank’s marketing team came up with the idea of a Dragon’s Den-style competition, using a high-profile media partner with an authoritative business bias.

Biss Lancaster recommended a media tie-in, so a media partnership was negotiated with The Sunday Times.

But a key part of the brief was to keep The Sunday Times’ ‘billing’ in the competition’s branding as low key as possible to allow Biss Lancaster to achieve coverage in key regional papers owned by News International competitors – notably Trinity Mirror.

The regional press strategy involved tailored photo shoots, a press release flagging up Sir Philip’s role as mentor, and a drip feed of information on the regional winners. The national final was held at the Victoria & Albert museum in London.

Measurement and evaluation

Excluding Sunday Times coverage, more than 147 articles covered the challenge, and 68 of them appeared in regional newspapers with a total circulation of 4,245,210. Regional business magazine coverage reached a circulation of more than 132,000.

The most prominent key message was ‘Five businesses will each be rewarded with £5m investment, free from interest and fees’, which appeared in more than 90 per cent of coverage, and the message that the challenge was backed by some of Britain’s most successful entrepreneurs appeared in 55 per cent of coverage.

A fifth of internet coverage was published on websites dedicated to entrepreneurial activity. Evaluation of the campaign estimated the challenge was communicated to more than 13 million people.


The overall winner was Daisy Communications. Its owner Matthew Riley said entering the challenge was ‘one of the best business decisions’ he ever made.

The Sunday Times described the challenge as ‘the biggest prize in business’, and the campaign’s success means it has been expanded in 2008. A prize fund of £35m is now up for grabs and two more regions have been added.

Although the bank will not release exact figures, the in-house team told Biss Lancaster that the campaign broke its internal targets for the number of businesses signing up for the challenge. The bank also claims the number of entrepreneurs enquiring about business services has shot up.

Alex Black

Second Opinion

Sally Davis
Director at The PR Department and
MD of social entrepreneur
body Growing Ambitions

Thinking about plenty of big ‘what ifs’ really paid off here. Having got The Sunday Times on board as media partner, getting it to reduce its ‘billing’ in the title of the challenge was the master stroke. And who, among entrepreneurs, would not value their business being appraised and applauded by Sir Philip Green? A life-affirming desire for many entrepreneurs, I’m sure.

As a subject for a PR campaign the Entrepreneur Challenge was a PR dream. Using the regional heats model, complete with the media-attractive dinners, all helped generate a buzz of media excitement all across the UK. All regions want to encourage local entrepreneurship and celebrate its successes, so the challenge meant that local media could also generate excitement.

One of the most gratifying results was that Bank of Scotland Corporate was clearly so delighted with the outcome that it has upped the prize fund 40 per cent for 2009 to a whopping £35m.

As a social entrepreneur I was really delighted to see that this year’s winner Daisy Communications is hot on CSR, with its involvement in The Prince’s Trust. Might this have had a bearing on its success?

Perhaps if the next challenge had ‘active CSR’ – in the form of ‘putting something back’ – as
a judging criterion, then the challenge might have an even ‘worthier’ element to shout about.

2/ consumer

Kent’s wild birthday bash breaks records

Campaign To launch Kent Wildlife Trust’s 50th Anniversary
PR team Adams Creative and Kent Wildlife Trust
Timescale March -April 2008
Budget c.£2,000 (part of a retainer)

To make the most of its 50th anniversary, Kent Wildlife Trust briefed local agency Adams Creative to help with a PR and marketing push.


To increase membership
To boost awareness of the trust’s projects.

Strategy and plan

The trust got permission from Guinness World Records to establish a new category: the world’s largest ever birdseed cake.

Local businesses were encouraged to donate almost all of the ingredients.

Trust patron Joanna Lumley helped drum up publicity for the campaign, and the trust hosted free wildlife events at nature reserves and town centres. It also conducted the largest ever wildlife survey in Kent.

Measurement and evaluation

The record attempt began with a live interview on BBC Radio Kent and the story was broadcast on BBC South East Today and ITV Meridian. The story featured on local websites, radio stations and in local papers Kent Messenger, Kent on Sunday, Kentish Saturday Observer and Maidstone Adscene.


The cake set the inaugural record at 1.29 tonnes. Membership figures will be assessed in December when the campaign comes to an end, but the launch event alone reached an estimated audience of more than one million people.

3/ Voluntary sector

Encams stubs out cigarette street litter

Campaign Keep Britain Tidy – launch of national smoking campaign
Client Encams
PR team Mere PR
Timescale April 2008
Budget c.£25,000

Encams (Environmental Campaigns) is an environmental charity best known for the 50-year-old Keep Britain Tidy campaign.

Since the smoking ban was brought in last July, Encams claims the number of discarded butts on UK streets has soared, with cigarette-related litter now found on 78 per cent of the country’s streets.

Mere PR was hired to launch a new campaign.


To launch Keep Britain Tidy’s smoking campaign
To create a PR stunt that highlights the smoking litter epidemic in the UK.


Mere PR suggested a giant cigarette butt should be created and ‘dropped’ in a highly populated, central London location.

Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square was chosen as it would highlight the size of the cigarette butt and make for good photos.

Measurement and evaluation

The campaign generated more than 50 articles and was covered by ITN, CNN, London Tonight and LBC London, and Keep Britain Tidy chief executive Phil Barton did a number of interviews.

The Times, The Independent and Metro featured the ‘big cig’ as ‘pic of the week’.


Encams has received requests for the giant cigarette to appear at music festivals, and councils across the country have asked to borrow it for local events.

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