Client: Barclays Bank Personal Sector
PR Team: Harrison Cowley (Birmingham), and Barclays press office
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’