Campaigns: Public sector/sport - Get on your bike to improve health

Campaign: Bike Week 2009
Client: Bike Week consortium comprising Sustrans, CTC, Cycling England,
Cycling Scotland and the Cycling Campaign Network
PR team: Forster and Limelight Sports
Timescale: January-June 2009
Budget: £35,000

Bike Week is the UK's biggest mass participation cycling event and has been encouraging people to try out cycling for more than 50 years. The initiative functions through local and regional events that take place across the UK.

The theme for this year's Bike Week - 13 to 21 June - was 'Get more out of life: Live local, get cycling'.


- To raise the profile of cycling

- To increase the number of Bike Week events

- To increase the number of event participants.

Strategy and plan

A launch event for Bike Week 2009 was held at the House of Commons and attended by local authorities, transport and cycling groups from around the UK.

Celebrity support was secured from, among others, designers Vivienne Westwood, Wayne Hemingway and Giles Deacon, and presenter Adrian Chiles.

An upgraded website was set up for Bike Week with an online guide to communications and template press materials for event organisers to download.

Forster chose six towns across the UK - London, Reading, Stoke-on-Trent, Southend, Sheffield and Moray in Scotland - and set a series of journalist challenges, experiences and reader competitions to secure features and drive people to local events.

To reach a range of audiences and address why they do not like cycling, a set of press materials was developed promoting the benefits of cycling, including five top reasons to cycle.

It also included tips for fashionistas from Vivienne Westwood.

A variety of consumer media coverage was secured from children's, families, fashion and travel titles.

Forster also set up a mountain biking challenge for The Daily Telegraph's Weekend supplement with the launch story capitalising on recent talk of hot summer weather.

The Department for Transport released statistics showing how much time commuters could save on their journey by switching to commuting by bike.

Measurement and evaluation

More than 1,700 articles were generated in titles including The Daily Telegraph, Marie Claire, OK!, The Big Issue and on BBC Radio 5 Live. The mountain biking challenge led to a four-page spread on cycling in The Daily Telegraph's Weekend supplement.

A total of 30 regional features and news stories appeared in the six pilot towns and cities.


There were more than 440,600 participants in Bike Week 2009, an increase of 88,000 from 2008.

There were also more than 1,300 event organisers, an increase of seven per cent from 2008. Work has already begun on Bike Week 2010.

Second Opinion

Nik Done. Co-founder, Unity

Often agencies seek that one golden idea that makes the heart sing and the creative taste buds flutter, but it is often not necessary. This is an example of a solid campaign - well thought-out and superbly executed - that beyond doubt delivered for the client. A series of clever and well-planned tactics, linked by the overarching theme 'Get more out of life: Live local, get cycling,' came together to motivate the public to take to the tarmac.

On what was a tight budget, the team at Forster got the message heard, from a strong exclusive feature idea resulting in four pages in The Daily Telegraph's Weekend supplement, to the use of celebrity ambassadors.

On celebrities - my one criticism would be that they all follow a similar demographic, other than Adrian Chiles, when perhaps a broader base would have appealed to a wider audience. Especially as, arguably, ABC1s are inherently 'greener' and therefore more likely to already favour the bicycle as a mode of transport.

Complementary digital ideas would also have worked well with this campaign - but I appreciate that the budget just was not there.

And finally on evaluation - the holy grail when it comes to PR campaigns - I would be interested to see how the team measured the uptake in bike riding and how they attributed it directly to the campaign.

Overall, this campaign is a master class in how to work the media on a budget to make a client very happy.

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