CAMPAIGNS: Public Education; Safety first on fireworks night

Client: Standard Fireworks PR team: DTW Campaign: Firework safety Timescale: Mid-October to early November 1995 Total budget: pounds 150,000

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

firework season.


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

children’s press.

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

serious effort’.

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.

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