Beneficiary: Romanian government Council for Reform
Agency: Dewe Rogerson
Campaign: Romanian privatisation programme
Timing: September 1995 to April 1996
Budget: ECU 2.3 million
On 1 October 1995 the Romanian government launched a countrywide
privatisation programme financed by PHARE.
This was its second attempt to enlist the Romanian public as
shareholders in newly privatised industry. A previous attempt was made
in 1992, when the government distributed thousands of vouchers which the
public were encouraged to redeem against shares. But the campaign
fizzled out, leaving the public cynical about the whole privatisation
In September last year, the Council for Reform enlisted Dewe Rogerson to
help co-ordinate the second privatisation programme.
To maximise participation by explaining the privatisation process and to
encourage subscription while marketing a choice of almost 4,000
With an initial subscription deadline of 31 December, Dewe Rogerson had
three months in which to generate public interest in the scheme. In
addition to explaining the mechanics of the privatisation and
subscription process, the agency also had to overcome public and media
cynicism about the worth of the companies to be floated.
Having recognised the need to make a direct and personal appeal to the
general public and to create a sense of mounting urgency in the
countdown to the deadline, the agency coined the strapline ‘Use it or
lose it’, underlining the fact that this was a once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity. Working with local agency Plus Advertising, DR generate a
TV, radio and press advertising campaign explaining the choices
In addition to the advertising campaign, the agency worked in
conjunction with local production company Ikon Productions on a series
of four educational TV programmes in which an ordinary family discussed
their queries about the privatisation. Using this informal vehicle the
agency were able to explain the principles of share ownership.
Literature on sectors for investment was made available through the post
office and other subscription points including banks, together with
leaflets explaining the rationale behind the privatisation, and posters
explaining how to fill in the subscription form.
Dewe Rogerson was responsible for international media relations, but it
was felt that the programme could best be explained to a hostile
domestic media by the government’s in-house department.
The agency however produced a series of media packs which were
distributed at weekly government conferences in Bucharest. Information
made available to the media included an explanation on the workings of
the privatisation and subscription process and the rationale behind the
choice of privatised companies, while also drawing with privatisations
in other Eastern and central European countries.
A series of seminars were held in regional centres where the local
prefecture and council representatives answered questions from the
By 1 December 1995 subscription stood at just 10 per cent, so the
deadline was moved to March 1996 and the agency was able to build
subscription momentum in the new year.
The decision to move the deadline was however picked by an almost
uniformly hostile media, to undermine the credibility of the programme.
By March 1996 however subscription had risen to over 85 per cent for the
first phase companies subscription with a further five per cent
subscription for a second phase of subscription to five regional
Dewe Rogerson successfully managed to over much public cynicism in a
remarkably short time by bypassing media scepticism and making a direct
appeal to the public. The agency also avoided the problems of slipping
deadlines and loss of public interest by persuading the government to
stick to its March deadline.
One of the keys to its success was its sensitivity to the tenor of
public interest. A previous campaign entitled ‘Good Morning Romania’,
funded by American technical assistant body USAID, which featured rich
fat successful Romanians lying in swimming pools praising the free
market grossly missed the mark, but Dewe Rogerson’s ‘common touch’
approach reinforced the relevance of the economic revolution to the man
in the street.
It is a measure of the campaign’s success that the agency is now engaged
in educating the manager of the 4,000 newly privatised companies in the
art of investor relations.