Campaigns: Product Launch - A lesson in self assessment

Client: TAX etc.

Client: TAX etc.



PR Team: Vousden Levick Publicity



Campaign: Launch of TAX etc.



Timescale: February - ongoing



Cost: pounds 10,000



TAX etc. was created to offer a simple, drop-in tax advisory service to

people affected by the new regime of self-assessment. Initially based in

the City, TAX etc. offers a fixed fee service costing pounds 100 for

completing straightforward tax returns and pounds 150 for more complex

returns. Consultations last about 45 minutes.



Objectives



To introduce TAX etc. as a walk-in tax centre and differentiate it from

traditional accountancy firms. To achieve significant share of voice in

a crowded new marketplace.



Tactics



Preparatory work began in mid-February with calls to the media to

ascertain what angles they would be taking. ’Naturally there was a lot

of interest, but there were a lot of people trying to push their side of

the story.



But we were trying to say that TAX etc. was slightly different, offering

a cheaper and more accessible service and that’s what the media listened

to,’ says VLP managing partner John Levick, who worked on the campaign

with consultant Ian Beaumont.



VLP was persistent in chasing the national press, BBC and ITN. Because

it was clear the media were interested in explaining self-assessment and

looking at the range of services on offer, VLP concentrated on gaining

maximum visibility for TAX etc. rather than trying to negotiate anything

exclusive and heavyweight (which would be tackled in the next stage of

the campaign after self-assessment had been around for a couple of

months).



TAX etc. director Ashley Deakin was put forward as a subject expert.



An official press launch was planned for Sunday 6 April, the day before

the introduction of self-assessment. Wheel of Fortune presenter Jenny

Powell was hired to release balloons near Tower Bridge.



Alongside the media campaign, VLP also organised a leafleting campaign

at Waterloo and Liverpool Street train stations in which a tax

consultation with TAX etc. was equated to other everyday activities that

people do at lunchtime such as picking up the dry cleaning or doing the

shopping.



Results



VLP’s timely start meant press coverage began early with a mention in

the Times including telephone numbers on 8 March. A longer piece with a

quote from Deakin appeared in the Times on 5 April.



Deakin was interviewed live on Sky News for four minutes on 3 April and

shots of TAX etc.’s offices appeared on the three main ITN news

programmes on 4 April. Radio interviews were conducted with London

stations News Direct 97.3 FM and LBC.



Titles which gave coverage included Accountancy Age, Mature Tymes and

the newspaper for taxi drivers, Taxi Globe.



The big disappointment was the launch at Tower Bridge which missed out

on coverage because press attention was on the bomb scare at the Grand

National.



Verdict



For a new company with just one office TAX etc. has so far made its

voice heard. Levick estimates it has achieved a 5 - 10 per cent share of

coverage of self-assessment. Deakin says he is happy with the PR

campaign and comments: ’I am surprised at the number of people coming to

us who’ve said ’I saw you on TV or heard you on the radio.’’



A lot of groundwork with the media and a clear, straightforward approach

has paid off well. Now the challenge is to get the media to re-visit

self-assessment by interviewing Deakin for a view on how it’s working

out.



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