CAMPAIGNS: LAUNCH PR - Bank shows its dress sense

Client: First Direct

Client: First Direct

PR Team: Band and Brown, in-house and Shelter

Campaign: Anorak Amnesty

Timescale: Feb - Aug 1998

Budget: undisclosed

When First Direct opened in 1989, it was the UK’s only direct, 24-hour

bank. Since then, almost every bank and building society, as well as

many other retailers have followed in its footsteps.

Band and Brown has worked with the company since it was set up,

promoting the First Direct brand as being open, innovative and friendly,

but also quirky.

When the bank launched its web site in April this year, it challenged

Band and Brown to create a campaign that would live up to its brand



To celebrate the launch of First Direct’s web site, in a way that would

appeal both to its PC-literate audience and the media. The bank was also

keen that customers visit its internet site to see a demonstration of

its new PC banking service.


As research had shown that 28 per cent of First Direct’s customers have

home PCs with modems, Band and Brown hit on the idea of using anoraks,

the fashion item stereotypically favoured by computer buffs. In

February, it approached Shelter, the charity for homeless people, with

the idea of an Anorak Amnesty.

After an initial donation from the bank of pounds 20,000, in April, a

national appeal was launched for the public to post or hand in their

unwanted anoraks to Shelter, for the charity to sell on.

Band and Brown also collected a number of anoraks from celebrities,

including football legend, Jack Charlton and EastEnders actress Patsy

Palmer. It then invited the public to bid for them by post or via First

Direct’s Internet site, which contained information on the campaign and

the history of the anorak.


Coverage of the campaign, ranged from Channel 4’s Big Breakfast and a

double-page spread in the Express, to pieces in the Independent, the

Guardian and the Daily Mail. Regional interest was drummed up by press

statements covering the most generous anorak-donating region and a

competition for the ’best dressed’ Shelter shop.


As First Direct is unable to disclose how many people have visited its

new web site since the launch, it is hard to evaluate how successful

this campaign has been. Undoubtedly though, the idea of an anorak

amnesty was an innovative way to appeal to its predominantly young,

PC-friendly audience.

In addition, while the media enjoyed sending up the ’nerd’ value of the

anorak, almost all coverage gave out details of First Direct’s web


Shelter has also benefited from the publicity surrounding this


But, until later this year when the change in weather will see the

anoraks being sold on, it is hard to estimate exactly how much has been


To date, there have been numerous bids for the celebrity anoraks, with

offers still coming in. But the campaign will receive a new lease of

life in the autumn when Band and Brown plans to hold a celebrity auction


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