Red Signal PR case study
Amanda Miles of merchandising company, Purple Rhino, was introduced to Scoubidou by her twin sisters (aged-11) who were desperate to lay their hands on the product after a friend had brought it into the playground following a holiday in France.
Scoubidou involves plastic multi colouredstrands that can be knotted to make bracelets, jewellery, pens, key rings etc.
After an extensive trawl of the European market the product was located in Spain and the manufacturer tracked to Holland.
Scoubidou had historically been a success in France and Amanda Miles took the risk of signing an exclusive distribution agreement and shipping 100,000 units into the UK.
Once the product had gained listings in John Lewis, Red Signal PR was recruited to:
1. Develop a UK craze for the product
2. Maximise sales in a 6-month period (the usual duration of any playground craze)
3. Reinforce the Scoubidou brand as ‘the original and best’ to cut out copy cat brands
4. Generate a profile for the owner of Purple Rhino to create a platform for future toy launches
Planning and Research
Red Signal had a two-week planning period which was spent researching the history of the brand and running informal focus groups with local school children. ‘On the ground’ brand ambassadors were recruited from 8-14 years to report back on playground and school bus behaviour to identify any new uses and users and to give feedback from shopping trips – the group were to be the ‘eyes and the ears’ of the brand and would inform PR activity.
Researching the history of the product brought some interesting facts to the surface to be used as supporting material for the press activity and to build feature material for the ‘success’ story as the craze took off.
It is rumoured that Scoubidou originated from France where it is said that Sacha Distel’s fans made wristbands to give to him made from the wires from inside electric cables. Could the new craft have subsequently been named after the Sacha Distel song Scoubidou?
Red Signal identified that the key stories to interest journalists would be:
- The discovery of the product
- The first sales figures
- The huge increase in crafting as a toy category
The PR plan was used to secure listings in key retailers including Toys R Us, Ottakars, John Lewis and Argos. This was achieved in a matter of weeks, which generated a first sell in figure of 1,000,000 packs.
The initial success story was seeded in The Telegraph which spawned pieces in other nationals including the Mirror and The Express and led to coverage on local TV, BBC Breakfast, Channel 5 News and Sky News.
All the children’s magazines were sent samples with ‘make-up’ instructions which were used to create feature pieces rather than product placements or giveaways. News from the playground showed that boys were adopting Scoubidou which provided ammunition for coverage in boys’ magazines and unisex titles e.g. Art Attack. Every children’s title covered Scoubidou products.
New brand extensions were developed including: Rainbow, Glow in the Dark and an accessories pack which were then drip fed to keep the brand fresh and to generate repeat coverage in key children’s titles for Halloween and Christmas gift projects.
Women’s magazines were targeted; resulting coverage included three pages in Woman’s Own.
As Scoubidou accelerated in popularity Red Signal identified that children were using Scoubidou to make gifts for fundraising – immediate links were made with local press to present brownies, beavers and school groups with complimentary packs to generate additional coverage.
Two books were developed in a matter of weeks with extra Scoubidou projects to increase usage and maintain interest. Both books hit the Amazon Top 100 in the first two months on sale.
Activity events were set up across all Ottakars outlets to secure shop window displays and additional high street exposure.
Additional images were created in house to appeal to older children (boys in particular) to maximise media opportunities.
5,000,000 packs and 500,000 books sold in a 6 month period. At its peak Scoubidou was outselling all other toy sales by 10:1.
Amanda Miles became a Millionaire.
Scoubidou won the Toy Retailers Association Toy Craze of the Year 2005
Red Signal persuaded a nation to engage in a new toy craze which was not only cost effective but could be played anywhere and had a positive effect on children’s hand / eye co-ordination skills
Combined circulation figures of coverage achieved was in excess of 34 million.
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