LAUNCH OF A NEW HIGH STREET BANK by Lansons Communications for Metro Bank

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LAUNCH OF A NEW HIGH STREET BANK

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Industry Banking & Financial Services
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United Kingdom
Agency Lansons Communications
Director Beverley Aujla
Released September 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Best Launch or Re-launch
Advertiser: METRO BANK
Product/Service: INDEPENDENT UK BANK
Director: Beverley Aujla (Lansons Communications)
Account Director: Lisa Elliott (Lansons Communications)
Account Director: Sarah Harvey (Lansons Communications)
Account Manager: Lucy Willatt (Lansons Communications)
Account Executive: Rebecca Annable (Lansons Communications)
Media placement: Press Release - FSA Approval - European And UK National Consumer News, Broadcast, And Personal Finance Media, U - 5 March 2010
Media placement: Press Release - Broadcast Media Alert - European And UK National Consumer News, Broadcast, And Personal Finance Media - 25 March 2010
Media placement: Press Release - Launch - European And UK National Consumer News, Broadcast, And Personal Finance Media, U - 29 March 2010

Summary of the Campaign
Metro Bank is a new High Street bank based on the successful US Commerce Bank model of offering unparalleled service and convenience plus a store network at the heart of the proposition. We were briefed to launch the first High Street Bank in over 100 years in London. The launch relied on PR as the only communications driver. Our challenge was to manage scrutiny around a new banking entrant and drive footfall.

In the lead up to the launch, the PR team created campaigns to generate positive coverage across all media types. This was essential to encourage consumer interest that would drive footfall to the store on launch day.

Blanket coverage was achieved across all media types on launch day July 29 2010. From the lead news story on BBC Breakfast which then trailed throughout the day, through to the launch being the lead trending topic on Twitter for 24 hours. 450 features were generated over 6 days (of which 135 were broadcast and 56 were national) and consumers were queuing up to open accounts. Awareness of the Metro Bank brand amongst Londoners has since increased by 350%, from 8% in July 2010 to 36% in October 2010 (YouGov research).

The Situation
The launch of the first High Street Bank to open its doors in over 100 years was topical news. However, our brief was to create the Metro Bank ‘story’ so that we owned the news agenda on launch day. The PR team also needed to manage mass media scrutiny and ensure coverage was balanced and contained Metro Bank’s key messaging. The launch came at a time when media and consumer trust in UK banks was at an all time low, post the UK banking crisis.

The launch spanned corporate, personal finance, consumer print, online, broadcast and social media channels.

The Goal
Pre-launch consumer insight was undertaken (Opinium, 2009) amongst Londoners, to ascertain who might be likely to switch to Metro Bank. This insight informed our objectives, which were aligned to target audience of potential switchers ahead of launch, and drive footfall.
Objectives:
• Create controlled media ‘buzz’ in run up to launch
• Mitigate risk of negative media scrutiny
• Ensure unique proposition understood by influential journalists
• Ensure footfall on launch day amongst target audience of Londoners Criteria for success:
• Increasing brand awareness of Metro Bank
• Whether account opening targets were reached
• Key message penetration of media

The Strategy
To successfully navigate the negative sentiment towards banks and unprecedented scrutiny of new entrants, we advised it was vital that Metro Bank:
a) set the news agenda
b) shape media opinion directly
c) leverage the significant appetite for change in the UK banking sector.
We believed with robust preparation we could positively leverage the scrutiny on new entrants and position Metro Bank as leading the ‘banking revolution’.

Phase 1 - preparation and planning
• Robust media preparation, message development and scenario planning to mitigate risks

Phase 2 – Building momentum around the FSA approval, 5 March 2010
• Engage and build proactive relationships with key journalists to shape opinion early
• Create controlled media ‘buzz’ by delivering select stories

Phase 3 - Launch
• Shape media sentiment over the launch period
• Generate customer awareness for the first High Street Bank to open its doors in over 100 years

Execution
Implementation of the strategy in three tactical phases:
Phase 1 – Robust media preparation
• Seven message and media workshops were run to perfect Metro Bank’s brand and corporate messages

Phase 2 – Building momentum pre / post FSA approval
Engaging and building relationships with key journalists to shape opinion early:
• 58 media briefings set up for the chairman and/or co-founder between March 2010 and July 2010
• 2 exclusive ‘behind the scenes’ media tours of Metro Bank store followed by dinner with the senior team.

Creating controlled media ‘buzz‘ by drip feeding stories with key journalists e.g.:
• Extensive personal profiles/ exclusive interviews with co-founders
• Key management and non-executive director hires
• Exclusive in-store images/photos
• Brand and marketing material
• Proposition exclusives
• Diary stories

Phase 3 – Launch
• Leveraged mass media appetite for the story
• Managed mass media scrutiny over the launch period

Documented Results
Pre-launch, controlled buzz:
• 653 items of media coverage - March 2010 to mid July
• 185 items of coverage for banking licence approval (1 March 2010 to 4 April)

Launch period, owning the news agenda:
• 66% of coverage contained 3+ key messages
• 38% of coverage carried Chairman/Co-founder quote
• 88% of national coverage was positive/balanced in tone – mitigating risk
• 450 features generated across all media sets (135 broadcast and 56 national)

Outcomes:
• Brand awareness amongst Londoners increased by 350%, from 8% in July 2010 to 36% in October 2010 (YouGov)
• Metro Bank’s first year’s targets for number of accounts opened at the Holborn store met in first month
• The success enabled Metro Bank to accelerate the store opening programme and enabled the bank to raise a further £51 million at a 20% premium to the original share price in three months.