Client: Ann Summers
Team: In-house with back-up support from Condor PR
Campaign: Launch of Good Vibrations, the autobiography of Ann Summers
managing director Jacqueline Gold
Cost: pounds 5,000 in external costs including photography and publicity
packs, plus in-house time promoting the campaign
Timescale: August to November 1995
The publication of Jacqueline Gold’s autobiography Good Vibrations last
November provided an excellent chance to promote both Gold and the Ann
Summers’ lingerie and sex toy business to an audience of potential
female customers and saleswomen.
The bulk of the company’s turnover is generated through its party plan
system, but Ann Summers recently embarked on a retail expansion plan
with the ultimate aim, says PR manager Jacquie Wilson, of having a
presence in every major UK city and town.
The aim of the campaign was to boost the profile of Ann Summers’
business to potential saleswomen and customers and to promote Jacqueline
Gold as a business leader.
‘The key point was to present Ann Summers as a well-organised company
organised by women for women,’ says Tina Hancock of Condor.
The publication was scheduled to take place amid the first stages of the
retail expansion campaign which had already provoked a degree of
negative local press and resistance to planning applications at some
sites. It was felt that some good press would help future presentations
of the Ann Summers retail concept to local planning officials.
Ann Summers’ PR Manager Jacquie Wilson deliberately downplayed any pro-
active publicity work from January 1995, focusing on a publicity blitz
later in the year.
Pre-launch work began in August to drum up interest in Jacqueline Gold
and her book. The six weeks up to the book launch was set aside for an
intensive round of interviews with national press and women’s magazines.
TV and radio chat show spots were also targeted.
The Daily Star, Today and the Sunday Mirror all ran big with Gold’s life
story which combined those two potent elements: sex and money. The
Guardian and Sunday Express also ran extensive pieces based on the book
Ann Summers also placed a two-page editorial promotion with News of the
World, but curiously its stablemate the Sun, despite arranging an
interview with Gold, didn’t publish - the only interview among 17
arranged with newspapers and magazines not to make it into print. Gold
was also featured at length on BBC TV’s Good Morning programme across
the London ITV area on After 5.
Importantly, there was very limited negative press and the content of
most coverage appeared to lap up the two main propositions put forward
by the campaign: that Gold had made Ann Summers successful through her
own entrepreneurial efforts; and that Ann Summers is a fun, rather than
seedy, business, run by women for women.
The British, they say, are embarrassed by sex. But on the evidence of
this campaign, there is no lack of editorial interest in what
paraphernalia we use when we do it - and how some of us make money out
If Wilson was pushing at an open door, she appears to have done
everything right to maximise coverage - and avoid any possible pitfalls
in what could be a contentious area.
‘The scale of the coverage certainly will have raised awareness of the
Ann Summers party plan and retail operation to potential customers - the
key objective of the campaign,’ says Wilson.
‘The cuttings we achieved are important - they can be used when we want
to present Ann Summers as a suitable retailer at high street locations,’
says Wilson. ‘It was a by-product of the campaign, but the cuttings have
given us another tool to promote Ann Summers to decision makers.’