CAMPAIGNS: CONSUMER LAUNCH; Putting paid to free banking?

Client: Barclays Bank Personal Sector PR Team: Harrison Cowley (Birmingham), and Barclays press office Campaign: Additions Timescale: May to July 1996 Budget: Estimated between pounds 50,000 and pounds 100,000

Client: Barclays Bank Personal Sector

PR Team: Harrison Cowley (Birmingham), and Barclays press office

Campaign: Additions

Timescale: May to July 1996

Budget: Estimated between pounds 50,000 and pounds 100,000



Barclays Additions is a new-style, fee-paying personal current account

where customers pay pounds 5 per month for additional services

including: pounds 100 overdraft with no usage or interest charges; free

will-writing service; discounted private medical insurance for children;

pounds 5,000 life assurance; cardholder protection, and protection for

Barclays Connect debit card purchases over pounds 50.



Additions was launched in four pilot areas earlier this year and will be

launched in the rest of the UK on 14 October.



Objective



To launch and raise awareness of the account’s benefits nationally and

in the four pilot areas - north London and Luton, Yorkshire and

Humberside, the North-East and Wales.



Tactics



Barclays Press Office handled the national launch and Harrison Cowley

Birmingham ran the regional launches, beginning a month before the

account became available.



The key issues for both agency and in-house were explaining the

complexities of the new concept account and to justify to the consumer

the new account charges, fielding concerns about a possible threat to

the continuation of free banking.



Harrison Cowley hired local celebrities to launch the account in the

regions, creating picture angles for the weekly and regional press, who

might not otherwise use financial stories. The photo opportunities were

also expected to increase the profile of the story on financial pages.



In the north London region, Kathy Taylor from the Holiday programme was

chosen, because she was local, and, being married with a young child,

she typified the main target audience.



The campaign was then sustained through radio promotions, national and

regional advertorials written by Harrison Cowley, and competitions.



Barclays customers also received direct mail information.



Results



Take-up of the account was more than twice that expected, according to

Gordon Rankin, Barclays Director of Personal Banking. ‘We attracted a

good mix of customers and non-customers,’ he says.



‘Because we had response mechanisms in the advertorials, we know these

created a high number of responses,’ says Louise Footner, Barclays

Personal Sector PR Manager.



Several national papers questioned if this was the end of free banking.

However, Harrison Cowley estimates that the balance of coverage was

positive, and that the take-up of the free banking issue led to more

television coverage than was expected.



Following this success, the account will be launched in the remaining

regions of the UK, using the same campaign approach, and division of

labour between Barclays and Harrison Cowley.



Verdict



Despite a cautious reaction from the national press, Barclays clearly

marketed its product correctly, judging from its customers’ response.



According to Rankin, 91 per cent of those who took up the account

thought it was good value for money, and 95 per cent said they would

recommend it to a friend.



‘I think you can still find free banking if you go down any High

Street,’ says Iain Cowey of the Daily Telegraph.



‘There was nothing wrong with the PR, it was the account I didn’t like.

What I really objected to was the attempt to charge for bits and pieces

of services that individually didn’t add up to much.’



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