Parker Pens launched a limited edition Snake fountain pen in March
this year and the company invited several PR consultancies to devise a
novel way of promoting it. Charles Barker won the pitch with its
suggestion to link up with Unicef to raise funds for its literacy
Celebrities were invited to write Words of Inspiration in a bound book
using the pens. The book and the pens will be auctioned in January next
To raise money for Unicef, and have the Parker name associated with
promoting literacy. The pens themselves are a limited edition and
pre-ordered, so promoting sales of them was not part of the brief. To
benefit Unicef through the association with a global blue-chip company,
and to keep the charity in the public’s mind through the resulting press
To turn the concept into reality, Charles Barker needed to tie in
various partners. Courier company Sprint agreed to carry the book and
pens around the world. Lord Attenborough, a Unicef ambassador, was
enlisted to front the campaign and persuade people to take part.
Charles Barker acted as Central Office, liaising with local Parker press
offices in countries around the world. There were five books in
circulation which will later be bound into one, so that celebrities all
around the world could write concurrently.
Central Office worked with Parker around the world to arrange local
Celebrities were asked if they preferred to write in private, or
preferably at a staged press event to heighten awareness. They were
encouraged to get in touch with their local Parker office if they wanted
to become more involved. They also signed pen validity certificates, so
the pens used could be auctioned. The pounds 8,000 Gold Snake pens were
only used for the public signings.
In January an auction will be held at Sotheby’s Auction House in New
York to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Unicef US. Parker has
underwritten the auction for pounds 250,000 and hopes to raise more.
Over 110 signatories have been collected, including Tony Blair, Nelson
Mandela, Patsy Kensit and Sophie Dahl, with more promised. The principal
objective of the campaign - to raise money for Unicef - is impossible to
gauge until after the auction. Press coverage has been limited in this
country, but elsewhere, in South Africa for example, it received
national television coverage.
An original campaign where both Unicef and Parker benefit through mutual
association. The fact that both are concerned with the promotion of the
written word lends credibility.
’It’s too early to evaluate the success in terms of raising funds, but
it has certainly helped raise awareness to be associated with a global
company like Parker,’ said Unicef’s head of fundraising Fiona
The logistics of getting the books around the world has been well
Client: Parker Pens/Unicef
PR Team: Charles Barker
Campaign: Words of Inspiration
Timescale: January 1997 to January 1998
Cost: pounds 225,000 including pounds 108,000 fee