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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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