PR Team: Axiom and Beer Davies
Campaign: On-cow advertising
Timescale: Ongoing from 7 May, 1996
Cost: pounds 2,000
MarketingNet is a small Internet marketing company set up in April of
1995 by partners Pauline and Matthew Bickerton. In conjunction with
Upkar Pardesi, Dean of the University of Central England Business School
the Bickertons co-authored a CIM publication called Cybermarketing
published by Butterworth-Heinemann Limited.
Axiom were brought in to publicise the launch of the book set for
Tuesday 28 May, having previously organised website launches for many of
To promote the launch of Cybermarketing, and raise brand awareness for
Three weeks before the launch of Cybermarketing at Birmingham’s Surf
Cafe, Richard Strange, a partner at Axiom, explored the possibilities of
promoting MarketingNet to those en route to the event.
At first he considered using the Milton Keynes concrete cows, but
eventually he decided to use live cows as a fun and topical medium.
In the light of the furore following the Government’s decision on 2 May
to destroy cattle over 30 months old, Strange singled out the cows of
farmer, Harry Goode. A ‘clean’ herd, fed only on natural products, they
had the additional attraction of residing in a field overlooking the
M42, just south of Solihull.
On 21 May a press release was issued announcing the move of Harry
Goode’s cows ‘into the field of advertising’, with an invitation to a
photocall on the following bank holiday Monday. Axiom had requests from
Sky, Reuters, the BBC and ITV for early photo opportunities and an
exclusive offer from the Mirror, but turned them down.
However, on the Thursday afternoon, Eugene Beer, of Beer Davies - UK PR
handlers for Ben and Jerry’s icecream - approached Axiom, with the idea
of a simultaneous campaign. Strange and Bickerton agreed in the belief
that this would widen their own publicity - especially in the US.
At 5am on 27 May Strange and Pauline Bickerton found themselves in a wet
field, dressing six cows in MarketingNet coats and two in Ben and
Jerry’s. Six Range Rovers were laid on to transport journalists from the
nearest carpark a mile away and a marquee was erected, providing
icecream, and copies of Cybermarketing.
At lunchtime, one of the cows gave birth and the press returned the next
day for a photoshoot of the mother and the calf named ‘Cyber’.
On launch day, MarketingNet sold 700 hard copies of the book and
received 14,000 hits on its Internet site.
Press coverage of the cows ranged from the Birmingham Post to the
Financial Times and the Sun. The Big Breakfast, BBC1 Breakfast TV and
Radio 4’s Today also carried the story. International interest included
Reuters TV, France 2, Sky and CNN.
A cheap, creative way of using a hot news topic. Bickerton says: ‘I
never expected it to take off.’ But after weeks of depressing editorial
on BSE, the media grabbed this story as a breath of fresh air. The
novelty value of the cows may have overshadowed the book launch, but
MarketingNet sent a successful brand message to prospective clients. Who
says British beef is bad for you?