Homebase Promo, Case study NIGEL FROM HOMEBASE

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Industry Household maintenance & pet products, Tools, Do-It-Yourself Products, Retail, Distribution & Rental companies, Department Stores & Shopping Malls
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Released July 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Retail and E-commerce, including Restaurants
Advertiser: HOMEBASE
Director: Laura Mahon (Iris)
Senior Account Director: Kathryn Smith (Iris)
Account Director: Robin Davies (Iris)
Account Executive: Joanna Lippold (Iris)
Media placement: National Print - The Sun - 02.12.09
Media placement: Regional Print - Western Daily Press, Bristol Evening News - 07.12.09
Media placement: Online - 8 X Websites Including Daily Mail Online - 30.11.09
Media placement: National TV - BBC 6 O'clock News - 30.11.09
Media placement: National Radio - BBC Radio Two, Talksport - 01.12.09
Media placement: Regional TV - BBC Points West, BBC Inside Out - 30.11.09
Media placement: Regional Radio - BBC Radio Bristol X 5, BBC West Midlands - 30.11.09

Summary of the Campaign
Nigel, a shop worker at the DIY store Homebase, was chosen in a local competition against Johnny Depp to turn on the Christmas lights in his town, Portishead. Why is Nigel so popular? In an increasingly cynical world shoppers appreciate that Nigel takes the time to talk to them and provides old-fashioned customer service. People in Portishead created a Facebook page to support Nigel and a local news piece ran. The agency picked up on this and instantly saw the potential to make this a national story, and create Nigel Mania. The story secured money can’t buy media placement on the BBC homepage. Significant broadcast coverage was gained across TV and radio including the BBC 6 O’clock news reporting live as Nigel turned on the Christmas lights. The story successfully encouraged Nigel Mania with 3000 people turning up to see him switch on the lights, wearing ‘We love Nigel from Homebase’ t-shirts. The budget for Homebase is limited so the team needs to rely on their creativity and excellent contacts to keep the company in the headlines. The cost of this campaign was a train ticket to Portishead, providing a great ROI for the Client.

The Goal
Identify and create tactical news stories for the company to secure media coverage outside of the homes and interiors press. The audience for Homebase is wide ranging from ‘DIY enthusiasts’ to ‘Home Enhancers’; they want a store that provides them with the knowledge and products to transform their house to a home. Therefore, the media targets were quite broad. We required stories that appeal to the mainstream tabloid media, high traffic websites and national broadcast outlets.

The campaign appeared on regional TV shows Points West and Inside Out, featured on the BBC homepage and across radio including BBC Radio Two and Talk Sport. The BBC 6 O’clock news pre-recorded in-store then covered the lights being switched on live by Nigel as 3000 people wearing ‘I love Nigel from Homebase’ T-shirts chanted his name. Nigel also gained international stardom as the story ran on Australian and New Zealand television Overall the story provided: • Strong media presence during the key Christmas trading period outside of the homes and interiors press • Money can not buy media placement on the national BBC news and on the BBC homepage Vikki Adamson, PR Manager for Homebase says: “This was a fantastic campaign for us during a crucial time. It cheered the whole company up. The agency spotted the opportunity and sprung into action, a great result.”

The team set about dealing with the relevant stakeholders; the Portishead store manager, Portishead people (who set up the competition), head office and Nigel himself. Stakeholders are key with a story of this kind; there was a need to keep everyone on side. For Nigel, it was a great experience but it could also have been over-whelming so we needed to ensure he was media ready and happy to do all the interviews. Once the business had approved the story we drafted a press release and then set about calling our media contacts to set up interviews, photography and filming with Nigel and relevant Homebase colleagues. A member of the team then headed to Portishead to supervise the three film crews who filmed in store and briefed all relevant parties. They then supervised Nigel whilst he turned on the lights ensuring maximum branding opportunities for Homebase.

The Situation
Homebase is the UK’s second largest home improvement retailer. It has more than 300 large, out-of-town stores throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland. With a challenging and competitive retail environment in 2009 it was essential to ensure Homebase was continually front of mind for consumers by securing regular stories in the national news media. This was the first time the brand has promoted itself outside of the homes and interiors press. Retail is a competitive media arena with many brands vying for the same editorial space particularly in the run up to Christmas, a key trading period.

The Strategy
Our strategic approach to news is aggressive. With limited budget we need to use the classic PR skills to generate stories. We call this approach the four C’s. Content – We spend the first hour and a half of each day reading all newspapers, magazines, social media outlets, and broadcast mediums to spot possible story opportunities Client time – At least one team member a week spends time with the client and the trading teams looking for data that might create a news angle Creativity – One of our Account Executives hosts a weekly brainstorming session to review the week’s news and generate stories Contacts – Each week the team visit journalists to discuss angles and they speak daily to consumer correspondents The Portishead competition was picked up during our daily content search. We instantly knew it was a heart-warming story and would ignite national news interest.