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Case Studies


Michelin I-Spy Books PR campaign

Michelin I-Spy Books PR campaign


Seal was appointed by Michelin Travel Publications to help relaunch a series of classic 1950s children’s books in late 2009.

The I-Spy collection was acquired and published by Michelin from 1991 until 2000 when they effectively ceased publication. Sales had been poor and it was seen that the collection added little value to the Michelin product catalogue.

In 2009 Michelin took the move to relaunch the series and issued 12 new titles, fully updated for the noughties. Only a small budget was allocated to the relaunch and PR was deemed the key to its success.

PR objectives

- Raise awareness of the new I-Spy collection through a high profile media relations campaign
- Generate positive, nostaligic coverage across a range of national, broadcast and regional media
 -Ultimately drive sales

Target audience

- Existing fans – grandparents, parents
- New adopters – parents, young adults, children aged 6+


The campaign was broken down into three distinct stages;

1. Create awareness and buzz via social media channels
2. National print media launch
3. Regional broadcast and competitions

1. Social media relations

- The books had no presence on the Michelin website therefore a microsite was designed to appeal to both children and parents. The microsite was to act as a hub, housing information and online shop
- Phase one of online activity was to identify ‘fans’. Unearthing the existing online brand champions formed the foundations of the social media activity and they were encouraged to follow the @ispymichelin Twitter feed
- Once an I-Spy community was formed conversations were steered towards fond memories of the collection

On the day of media launch Twitter followers were passed the link from the online news articles which they were encourage to re-Tweet this resulted I-Spy becoming a ‘trending’ topic

2. Media relations

- Press release drafted highlighting the heritage of I-Spy collection
- A member of the original 1950’s I-Spy tribe was tracked down and was happy to supply quotes and even the original press cuttings from the 50s. This was essential to ensure all press articles referenced the heritage of the brand
- Media were supplied with simple but effective images of both the new and old collection helping to give the press articles a fond, nostalgic tone whilst also promoting the new books
- Seal identified key journalists across national press who remembered the collection and co-ordinated press to appear in early January
- The media were very receptive to a positive, nostalgic news story given all the doom and gloom surrounding the recession
- The story broke on the Daily Mail website which gathered over 30 positive comments from readers and the following day five other national titles printed the story along with the photography
- Due to the blanket print media pick up Eamon Holmes and Ruth Kelly mentioned the relaunch on This Morning
- In order to keep the collection front of mind with consumers through out phase one of the campaign (Jan – Mar) a series of competitions and giveaways were organised with parenting, specialist and children’s publications.

3. Second stage launch – exciting broadcast media

- Seal brought back David Bellamy as ‘Big Chief I-Spy’ for the day to leverage the second phase campaign activity
- David was partnered with parenting expert and author of ‘Dummies Guide to Parenting’ Sue Atkins for a series of regional radio interviews
- With the school holidays approaching and family budgets still tight research was conducted into the how much the school holidays cost parents. This then led nicely into the low cost and education values of the I-Spy books
- 15 interviews were conducted throughout the day

Creativity – what makes the campaign stand out?

Having limited budget for activity stimulated creative thought. Sourcing the original I-Spy member was a cost effective way of bringing the collection to life and communicating the key messages.

But the crucial element, in the second launch phase of activity was to secure a credible media worthy spokesperson. Despite being faced with a very stubborn agent who would not negotiate on price the team managed to find another route to David Bellamy. A collection of I-Spy books was sent to Mr. Bellamy’s literary publisher with a letter asking if he would like to share his experience as Big Chief I-Spy.

The simple mailer generated a swift response with David agreeing to work on the launch for a nominal (within budget) fee.

The campaign had several elements which resonated with the media and consumers. David Bellamy, a much loved icon, gave the campaign personality and standout.

However key messages were delivered through parenting expert, Sue Atkins. Sue was able to weave in educational and cost effective messages and complimented David in all broadcast interviews.

Evaluation and measurement

Media highlights
- The Times, Telegraph, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Independent and Daily Express all featured the story on phase one launch date

-   11 minute radio interview with the Michelin client on BBC Radio London
- AVE of print coverage totaled £192,317

Social media highlights
-  20 re-tweets on launch day
- Sentiment of all conversation was positive, fond and nostalgic

Business highlights
- To date 250,000 copies of I-Spy have been sold with only PR support, no advertising has been undertaken
- Press coverage has led to a number of exciting opportunities for the brand. The Daily Mail has approached us to commission a 60 page pull out which will run over six weeks at no cost to Michelin.


Return on investment (ROI): £8,000 spend (including agency fees and additional expenses) resulted in £192,317 AVE of print coverage – meaning for every £ invested 24 times that figure was recouped in PR value.

Final results against objectives

- The profile of the collection has been significantly raised with the media and is one of the best performing titles in Michelin’s product range

- 98% of coverage included the ‘nostalgic’ key message and was evenly split across national print, broadcast and regional media

- Sales have now reached 250,000 with no paid for advertising or content

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