Client: Lotus Cars
PR team: In-house
Campaign: Completion of Lotus’s 50,000th car
Timescale: March-April 1995
Cost: Under pounds 20,000.
Lotus has been making cars since 1948 and produces about 1,000 hand-
built automobiles a year. To celebrate the production of Lotus Cars’
50,000th vehicle, the company wanted to create a media event that would
broaden awareness of the Lotus marque among a wider audience, while also
raising money for a charity that was associated with encouraging young
business enterprise in East-Anglia - a region hard hit by job losses.
To find a suitable way to mark this milestone for the company, while
simultaneously creating links with a national, high-profile charity with
a strong regional presence.
Lotus Cars’ head of communications, Patrick Peal, linked up with The
Prince’s Trust - a charity involved on a regional level with young
people in start-up businesses.
Lotus’s 50,000th car was donated to the charity in a rolling out
ceremony in March, attended by the company’s 1,000-strong staff, former
Secretary of State for Transport John McGregor, Hazel Chapman, wife of
Lotus founder Colin Chapman, and Britt Ekland, a one-time Lotus owner,
who handed over the car to a representative of the Prince’s Trust.
At this stage, a question mark still hung over the fate of the car. But
after reviewing a variety of methods for realising its PR potential,
Lotus concluded a deal with Stuart Higgins, editor of the Sun, who
agreed to run a high-profile competition with the car as the prize,
using a premium rate telephone number for entries.
The Prince’s Trust enlisted the support of TV personality - Ulrika
Jonsson to promote the competition.
Her photo ran with the competition for a week in the Sun.
Over 140,000 Sun readers rang the telephone hotline and raised pounds
68,000, for the Prince’s Trust - the biggest sum generated by a Sun
competition. All proceeds have been donated to the Prince’s Trust, to be
spent in the East Anglia region over the next three years to support
business start-ups and community action.
Lotus Cars achieved an audience awareness level which would have been
unlikely without the use of a mass-market tabloid. The launch ceremony
received television and radio airtime in East Anglia, adding to Lotus’
status as a responsible local employer. According to Peal, the company’s
ongoing relationship with the Prince’s Trust has also led to contacts
with high-profile individuals involved with the charity who have helped
to lift brand awareness and perception by association.