Brookman Divorce Solicitors, was a small and virtually unknown firm with just 5 employees and one fully qualified practising lawyer, Henry Brookman. Henry approached Islington-based Shaw PR and Joslin Shaw Advertising to devise a creative, but low budget, campaign to generate publicity, position them as a heavy weight within divorce law and shake off the endemic stuffy image associated within the profession.
The target audience was high net worth individuals, suffering a marital breakdown. Clients with an international dimension would particularly benefit from Brookman's expertise.
With a shoestring budget, City washrooms were identified as an ideal medium for the one for reaching this target audience, who were most likely to work for international financial institutions within the square mile.
Concluding that divorce was not a pleasant subject and that the chosen medium had a captive audience of a robust and adult workforce - which lent itself to a hard hitting sales message appealing to one emotion experienced by divorcing couples - anger.
The now famous 'Ditch The Bitch' and 'All Men Are Bastards' ads were born. Within two days of the ads being posted, the first of many new clients called Brookman from the lavatory of a City pub. But of even greater value than direct response to the ads, was that from the resultant publicity. This tiny budget has, to date, generated publicity worth (as measured in its advertising equivalent) in excess of 1.5 million.
The media frenzy caused by the campaign has been phenomenal. Coverage included on the front page of The Guardian and page three of The Sun.
Although the campaign received some 'negative' headlines, the client far from being perturbed, was delighted with the over-riding message: here is a solicitor with character and a sense of humorous. Despite the media hysteria, the Advertising Standards Authority received just a solitary letter of complaint about the advertisements.
Experience has taught us that the press are more likely to cover stories that have been leaked or they have unearthed for themselves, rather than those spoon-fed by more conventional agencies. It was our intention for the national press to think that they had discovered the story and that we were not seeking national public.
Following a viral marketing campaign the story appeared in the marketing press (Media Week, Media Business, Marketing Week, Marketing) during the second week on May, 2001, where its appearance was the tipped off - by an 'anonymous' source - to The Lawyer magazine.
We then waited patiently for the press to take the bait.
A Press Association (PA) journalist picked up the story from The Lawyer A few minutes later, on 15th May the story was posted to the PA newswire. Within seconds, the 'phone of both client and agency the national press, began ringing off the hooks. The waiting proved worthwhile!
n the space of four weeks the story was reported in the UK national press and on TV and radio, no less than 38 times, generating some 1,096 column centimetres of news print being seen 67 million times in the UK alone. And that was without counting online coverage Moreover, the campaign made international news headlines, generating a response from as far afield as Australia, USA, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Canada and Brazil.
Post campaign research concluded that 74% of all adults in central London were aware of the campaign. It's is amazing what a good idea, a brave client and a little integrated marketing can achieve
Having kept a deliberately low profile for over a decade, DS Group, the computer facilities management company, decided they needed a greater market presence. The DS Group had spent more than ten years keeping its head down, making money. It was a deliberate policy to avoid rival companies from discovering their lucrative niche.
However, computer manufacturers who had been happy to leave specialist services to companies like DS Group, came under pressure of reduced margins. The DS Group was now being asked to tender for contracts, for which they would have to pitch against multimillion dollar international concerns. Hence the need for a higher profile and some outside marketing help. A couple of telephone calls later and the DS Group was being recommended to contact Joslin Shaw.
The company's MD, Ian Black, having shirked publicity for so long, had to be prepared for something of a culture shock. Within four weeks of appointing SHAW PR, Ian's face had appeared on the front and back pages of the computer press no less than three times.
Indeed, market leading computer trade title Microscope said that they had; 'spent years not writing about Ian Black... but lo, suddenly he stepped out from the shadows... The exposure has turned this garrulous Scotsman into a channel personality.'
This was despite the fact that we warned him to expect no "quick fix" and promised little coverage in the first three months; the real benefits from our other efforts would be seen in the medium and longer terms.
Some of our recommendations were not what the DS Group wanted to hear. But after some agonising, our judgement and expertise were recognised and our proposals accepted.
Six months later, Ian Black (who as a Scot is naturally cautious with his hard-earned money), declared that SHAW PR had more than fulfiled his brief and improved his company's awareness beyond his expectations, and even got his chocolate Labrador, Macintosh, a couple of mentions in the press.
ETHAN ADAMS & ASSOCIATES
The Joslin Shaw story is one of success. Not just for the agency, but also for its clients.
Take Ethan Adams & Associates, a computer software company. When introduced, the company was the proverbial on man (and one woman) band, working from home. Ethan Adams & Associates consisted of Des Desai and his wife, Hazel.
Each year that we've worked with Ethan Adams, the client has doubled its turnover Ð and its profits. And Des has emerged as one of the industry's best known characters. Which is quite an achievement for someone who refused to have his photograph taken for more than sixteen years.
The client readily admits that Joslin Shaw has played an integral part in his company's success. A high media profile for Ethan Adams made them seem a much larger organisation than they actually were. The company's technical expertise and the quality of its products were never in doubt. But that's only part of the key to success in a fiercely competitive business world. Large corporate customers also need a 'feel good factor' before making a purchasing decision.
In Ethan Adams' case, this comfort factor has been achieved through high impact advertising, some favourable press reviews and regular news coverage.
There were also a couple of publicity stunts along the way. Being serious about business doesn't preclude a sense of humour. It is possible to make money and still have fun. You may remember the half-time tea sponsorship of Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club. Or that of the club cat "Benny" at Halifax TownFC. Not to mention a spoof plan to assasinate a one-time England football manager. These achieved coverage in every national newspaper and also a couple of visits by the men in blue... but that's another story.
A nomination from SHAW PR let Ethan Adams scoop a prestigious VAR of the Month Award, from Dennis Publishing's VAR Magazine. The accolade saw Des finally have his photo taken and pick up £1,500 worth of Hewlett-Packard hardware Ð not to mention several new clients.
High Impact Advertising