Client: Standard Fireworks
PR team: DTW
Campaign: Firework safety
Timescale: Mid-October to early November 1995
Total budget: pounds 150,000
Last year’s Guy Fawkes night celebrations resulted in a worrying 48 per
cent increase in accidents. Ironically, the fireworks industry believes
that this was partly due to improved safety standards. Increased
confidence in the products may have meant people are treating fireworks
with less caution. The problem has been exacerbated by the removal of
import restrictions on products from the Far East. As the market leader,
and only remaining UK fireworks manufacturer, Standard Fireworks led a
joint industry and Government campaign to reduce injuries during the
A generic industry campaign was mounted to demonstrate the seriousness
with which fireworks suppliers take their responsibilities. It had a
secondary objective of ensuring that the trade enforcement agencies had
the information required to police the industry fairly, without seizing
product unnecessarily during the three week window of opportunity in the
run-up to 5 November.
Standard Fireworks ran a multi-faceted programme in the run-up to Guy
Fawkes’ Night, which dovetailed with the DTI’s annual safety campaign
run by the Central Office of Information. An educational pack on the
safe use of fireworks, for teachers to use as part of the national
curriculum, was sent out to 30,000 primary and middle schools.
A media pack was sent to 2,000 journalists containing safety information
to assist both national and regional media to put together features on
firework safety. To maximise radio coverage, DTW also put together a
safety jingle which was distributed to national and regional radio.
Firework safety cartoon strips, featuring the DTW-designed cartoon
characters Ed Banger and the Firework Funsters, were sent to the various
Additional material was sent to 14,000 retailers around the country,
which provided information on the safe storage, sale and use of
fireworks. To ensure that consumers carried the message home with them,
DTW also produced a safety coded carrier bag in association with the
At the same time, DTW held seminars on current legislation aimed at
trading standards enforcement officers, fire brigades and police. DTW
also mounted a lobbying campaign, drawing MPs’ attention to the need to
firm-up recently revised legislation on the policing of sales to under-
The DTI invested pounds 170,000 in a series of public service
announcements fronted by comedy actor Gordon Kaye, comedian Alexei Sayle
and DJ Chris Tarrant, and a poster campaign featuring Casualty actor
Derek Thompson. Educational posters and leaflets were produced in
conjunction with BBC 999 Lifesavers.
The campaign prompted extensive media coverage, with 47 local radio
interviews, over 100 regional mentions, coverage in national dailies and
TV news bulletins picking up on the story in the last week. Radio and TV
coverage through public information broadcasts has run nationwide.
Last year’s appalling injury figures should have given both the firework
industry and the Government some food for thought, but there is a
question over how effectively safety campaigns can tackle this problem.
‘The press pack claims that 100 million fireworks are sold every year,’
points outs Noel Tobin, director of the National Campaign for Firework
Reform. ‘But this is the same figure that I’ve seen for the last 25
years.’ Nevertheless, he applauds Standard Fireworks for ‘making a
In the end, however, the achievement in human terms has yet to be
gauged, with DTI accident and injury figures for 1995 unlikely to see
the light of day for some months to come.