Best B2B public relations campaign - Winner

Best B2B public relations campaign

Winner: JCB Dieselmax

Agency: Fingal

Campaign: Land speed record, 2006

 

 
 The dieselmax vehicle
The concept seemed preposterous: take two engines from a humble JCB digger and use them to challenge the world land speed record. Employing more than 8000 people, JCB is the third largest manufacturer of construction equipment in the world and has a product range of 279 different machines. It is the market leader in Europe, exporting to 150 countries.

The JCB Dieselmax project began with Anthony Bamford's dream of showcasing his company's new JCB444 diesel engine. The campaign aimed to:

- Reinforce JCB's iconic status in the UK

- Raise JCB's brand awareness in the US

- Raise staff morale by making them feel part of a winning team

- Use the project to appeal to the graduate engineering community

- Secure documentary film of the project to be shown in UK and US

- Create and manage a dedicated website

- Publish a book of the project

- Provide film and photography for future JCB use.

Key suppliers included land-speed journalist David Tremayne, whose task was to write the media kit plus the book of the project; photographic and video news distribution agencies to provide images to JCB; PR consultancies to create a campaign; onboard camera specialist to work closely with the engineering team and land-speed expert microlight pilot to ensure aerial images.

The planning phase also involved developing brand identity and the internal communications strategy, creating the media and marketing strategy, developing a website (including securing the domain name www.JCBdieselmax.com) and securing a book publishing deal with Haynes.

Six months before the land-speed attempt and one month before the official announcement, the staff and media teaser campaigns began. A three-part flyer was posted to staff at home and to the media, gradually announcing the launch date and the project. As the actual race car would still be in its design phase a show car was commissioned for the launch, with the build deadline allowing time for a secret studio photo shoot and the images providing media and marketing photography at the launch. Arrangements were also made for a dedicated post-launch trip to the UK for US media.

To interest the engineering community, engineering placement student Annie Berrisford was offered the chance to be part of the team, and her regular blogs on the website provided an insight for the graduate community, especially within Birmingham University where she is based.

The website, including a secure media login area, went live at noon on launch day, providing words, stills and a downloadable VNR for broadcasters. An email release to the full international media list of 2000 journalists was sent directing them to the website for further information. A hand-picked group of about 50 media personnel was invited to the launch with opportunities to meet and interview key personnel, including Sir Anthony Bamford and RAF Wing Commander Andy Green who was to drive the car.

Immediately after the launch a documentary deal was struck with National Geographic for a two-part documentary in the US and UK; with BBC Birmingham for a 15-minute item on Inside Line; and with TF1 for a 12-minute news item. All were to be aired post-attempt.

The final three months was an intensive period of media activity with UK, US and European media trips to see the car test at RAF Wittering. Regular media communications were distributed via e-mail and on the web and the archive of photography and broadcast images were continually updated. In addition, exclusive stories were set up with The Sun, Sunday Times and Top Gear TV.

An advanced PR team set out early in August to set up communications on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah where the land-speed attempt was to be made. A second PR team accompanied the European media group, two days before the attempt, with US media arriving on the day. Once in Utah, 40 journalists were given behind-the-scenes access.

When JCB Dieselmax's first record attempt on 22 August 2006 smashed the existing record, forward planning allowed JCB's marketing department to deploy an advertising campaign across several UK broadsheets announcing the achievement. The two further attempts established two new world diesel records, the fastest of which was 350.092 mph. The team publicised the achievement via e-mail and the web including words, downloadable high res pictures and broadcast quality news footage. Regular blogs from team members and a comprehensive dieselmax merchandise range further increase the website's appeal. On the week of the record attempt the website received 61,500 visits and the video footage was downloaded 4799 times.

With a total communications budget of £1 million, the project achieved coverage in 38 countries worldwide, including: 23 TV news items in the UK; 81 TV news items in the US; circulation of over 30 million readers from UK publications; circulation of over four million readers in the US; National Geographic documentary and the publication of the book The World's Fastest Diesel.

 

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