After successfully bidding for £1 million of government funding per year for three consecutive years to improve the town’s privately-owned housing stock, Eastbourne Borough Council needed to encourage residents to apply for grants, financial assistance, and interest-free loans. Sums of £100 to £30,000 were available for home repairs; for home adaptations to improve safety, warmth and energy efficiency; and to bring empty properties back into use.
It was my responsibility, as Account Director at marketing communications agency PRG, to conceive, direct, and play a major role in the implementation of the marketing communications campaign promoting ‘loans and grants for home improvement’. This campaign integrated PR, direct mail, point-of-contact information, and advertising. I was the advertising copywriter and creative director, working closely with PRG’s graphic designers.
Ads appeared in print, online, on the inside and outside of buses, and at bus shelters. Demographic research into the target audience – people unemployed, on low incomes, or aged over 60 – determined the neighbourhoods and bus routes we needed to reach with the ads on buses and bus shelters.
The tone and language of the advertisements was constructed to appeal to ‘red top’ newspaper readers who would respond to no-nonsense language and relate to real people. The campaign strapline – ‘Because you deserve it!’ – aroused curiosity (what do I deserve?) and poked fun at the similar catchphrase, ‘Because I’m worth it,’ purred by glamorous stars advertising a well-known cosmetics firm. To give the offer of financial assistance real-world authenticity, we made residents of the borough the stars of the ads. People who had previously benefited from assistance were shown prominently in photos taken inside or outside their homes, with a short quote from each about they help they’d received.
Eastbourne Borough Council succeeded in meeting its targets, outperforming other local authorities who had obtained similar funding.