CAMPAIGNS: Making Vinnie a White Knight - Public Awareness

Buying a used car privately has always been fraught with risks. To make the process less stressful for buyers and sellers, Lloyds TSB and car supermarket Car Group formed a joint venture, White Knight, offering the first warranty for private car sales where the seller gives a legally binding written commitment describing the condition of the car.

Buying a used car privately has always been fraught with risks. To

make the process less stressful for buyers and sellers, Lloyds TSB and

car supermarket Car Group formed a joint venture, White Knight, offering

the first warranty for private car sales where the seller gives a

legally binding written commitment describing the condition of the

car.



Objective



To educate the public about the White Knight warranty and position it as

a trustworthy product offering clear benefits.



Tactics



Because warranty products are not easily understood by the public,

Paragon set up a nationwide tour giving private briefings to key

journalists and opinion formers in the motor trade so that they would be

able to explain the benefits.



During the tour the brand name was not disclosed, heightening the sense

of expectation. Two teaser press releases were sent out. A City version

highlighted the strong corporate backing behind White Knight, while a

news version heralded the launch of an innovative warranty product for

the private car market. Research commissioned from MORI produced the PR

line that people commonly get warranties for products like washing

machines costing a few hundred pounds but rarely for cars bought

privately costing several thousand pounds. The research also proved

there was a huge demand for reassurance when buying a used car.



Because September is a very busy time for motoring journalists, Paragon

decided not to have a formal launch. Three versions of an embargoed

media information kit were tailored to different audiences. The front of

the kit featured a picture of soccer hardman Vinnie Jones with the line

’Would you buy a used car from this man?’, followed by a picture of a

sweetly smiling Jones and the words ’You will now!’ A tabloid release

focused on the fact Jones had bought his sister a White Knight warranty

to help her sell her car. The broadsheet release explained the need for

the warranty and its benefits, while a City release announced the launch

of the joint venture between Lloyds TSB and Car Group.



The day before the public launch a photocall was held with Jones, his

sister and White Knight managing director John England. England and Auto

Express news editor Lydia Aydon were also available for radio

interviews, and a syndicated audio feature produced with radio

consultancy The Market Tiers was distributed to radio stations.



Results



As a result of the pre-launch tour three opinion-formers, including

motor industry guru Professor Garel Rhys, were happy to give quotes to

the media.



This groundwork paid off when Radio 5 Live turned independently to Rhys

for comment. The teaser release was covered by six nationals including

the Times, the Guardian and the Express, around 20 regional and three

trade publications, gaining a total of more than 17 million

opportunities to see.



The launch was featured in the Mirror, the Express and the Mail on

Sunday, 41 regional papers, and three motoring magazines. Twenty-two

radio interviews were conducted and the syndicated tape was used by over

30 stations. Working Lunch on BBC2 ran a two-minute piece on launch day.

Paragon hopes to have an item featured on motoring programme Top Gear

soon.



Verdict



Taking the time to brief key figures face-to-face in order to help them

understand quite a complex product has resulted in excellent media

coverage, particularly at a regional level. Paragon identified eight key

messages, and average message delivery for the teaser release was five

per item.



The choice of Vinnie Jones, presenter of Granada TV’s Men and Motors, to

front the campaign was apt. He has a reputation for not being a man to

mess with, yet with the addition of a White Knight warranty he becomes a

knight in shining armour.



Radio opportunities were well exploited by using The Market Tiers’

studio and ISDN link, but TV coverage has so far proved more elusive.

Perhaps more could have been made of the Vinnie Jones link.



Client: White Knight UK Ltd

PR Team: Paragon Communications

Campaign: Launch of White Knight Warranty for Private Car Sales

Timescale: June to October 1997

Cost: pounds 65,000



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