CAMPAIGNS: PUBLIC AWARENESS; Taxman sheds excess pounds

Client: Inland Revenue PR team: In-house, with Ardent Marketing handling the launch stunt Campaign: Taxback Week Timescale: September 25, 1995 for one week. Cost: pounds 12,000 for launch stunt, plus further un-costed in-house support.

Client: Inland Revenue

PR team: In-house, with Ardent Marketing handling the launch stunt

Campaign: Taxback Week

Timescale: September 25, 1995 for one week.

Cost: pounds 12,000 for launch stunt, plus further un-costed in-house

support.



In 1991, the Government abolished composite rate tax paid on bank and

building society accounts, allowing non-taxpayers to claim back tax

normally deducted at source on savings accounts and dividend income.



But, despite three advertising and publicity campaigns between 1991 and

1993, an estimated six million people, eligible to claim back tax on

savings or dividend income totalling an estimated pounds 500 million,

remain inadvertent contributors to Treasury coffers.



Objectives



To increase awareness levels among those eligible to claim tax refunds

on savings accounts and share dividends.



To increase the numbers of those claims for refunds or future exemptions

in the October to December quarter by 10 per cent, and to boost

helpline enquiries about the scheme.



Tactics



The campaign was designed to target a wide range of key categories of

potential non-taxpayers including pensioners, unemployed, children,

students, and housewives outside the labour market.



This is a wide audience which, if not necessarily affluent, is expensive

to reach regularly by advertising according to Claire Salmons, publicity

manager at the Inland Revenue’s Corporate Communications Office.



So the Revenue opted to plan a high-profile but modestly-budgeted PR

campaign because ‘we decided that further advertising and paid publicity

would be likely to yield progressively diminishing returns,’ says

Salmons.



The highlight of the week was a TV news opportunity, organised by Ardent

Marketing, in which Simon Crane, a stuntman from James Bond feature film

Goldeneye leapt off the Inland Revenue’s Somerset House headquarters

into a cash mountain of pounds 500 million pounds (fake, of course).



The Revenue also distributed regional and national newspaper press packs

as well as arranging spokespeople for broadcast media, and access to

individuals who have successfully claimed back tax on savings.



Results



The strong visual tag of the campaign paid dividends. TV interest was

clearly shaken as well as stirred by Bondesque stunts at Somerset House.

ITN carried coverage of the stunt, and the Taxback message, through the

day including mentions on News at Ten. The BBC carried the story on

national bulletins throughout the day along with Sky News.



The launch of the week-long campaign was also covered on Radio 1, Radio

4, and IRN bulletins for commercial radio, while a good range of

broadsheet, tabloid and regional papers picked up on the PR-led

opportunity to write about a subject close to most readers’ hearts -

their wallets.



Verdict



Total media coverage of the campaign was estimated to equate to pounds

820,000 of advertising spend, according to the Inland Revenue’s ad

agency Leagas Shafron Davis.



But what about the bottom line? There too, the campaign appeared to

achieve its objectives. Freephone enquiries rose 500 per cent, and the

number of new claims set up by the Inland Revenue to claim back tax was

up to 17,000 in October and November according to Salmons. Even so, many

of the six million out there still failed to respond to the message.



‘We know we are not everybody’s favourite people,’ she says. That may be

true - for most of the year, but for this particular week, you could

have fooled me.



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