Creating presence for a low-key market leader, amidst high-spending competitors
In 2008, top European replacement car filter supplier, Sogefi Aftermarket, was struggling to sustain its UK number one status; despite offering four, original equipment quality replacement filter brands and having an established UK sales and manufacturing base. Competitors with similarly advanced filtration technologies were grabbing the limelight and winning share, thanks to high spend trade advertising campaigns and promotional activities. In contrast Sogefi Aftermarket had little marketing spend and almost no media presence. Its French parent company was also considering rationalising its UK brands and factories – developments that would require careful communication.
Hornby Whitefoot PR was appointed by Sogefi Aftermarket in 2008 to optimise its first, UK-controlled PR budget. Within tight financial and corporate constraints we established and managed a focused programme of automotive aftermarket trade media relations across the year, ensuring specific campaigns for each filter brand, and emphasising the most strategically key product technologies. News, feature and technical editorial content emphasised Sogefi’s unique product selling points and achievements as an innovator, giving UK distributor and garage customers clearly differentiated reasons to choose the brand. We ensured a visible, opinion-leading presence for the client’s key spokespeople on live industry issues such as MOT frequency, fake product imports and the motor vehicle block exemption regulations. We also grew brand engagement via garage-focused competitions and promotions; also assisting with marketing collateral copy-writing and supporting key UK and overseas exhibitions.
The PR programme further evolved in 2012 when the company took centralised control of all its European PR budgets. Working closely with a hub agency in Germany, as well as other agency partners across Europe, we then implemented an enhanced, b2b print and online news and feature campaign that was both aligned with Sogefi’s European goals and locally relevant. When Sogefi rationalised its brand portfolio, and closed a key British factory necessitating redundancies, we also provided constructive, effective customer and media communications support. Activities also included negotiating the company’s first raft of display advertisement bookings, and coordinating UK specialist media presence at major media events and industry exhibitions in Spain, France and Germany across a number of years.
- Establishment of a credible, leadership reputation for the client in its key sector, from an almost invisible start – also differentiating and protecting the company from aggressive competitors
- Continuous increase in volume and value of positive media coverage across eight-year period, that the client reported often led to multiple sales enquiries
- Highly fruitful, two-way editorial relationships developed, creating ongoing exclusive opportunities for the client
- Typically achieved more than 150 items of positive, trade media coverage per annum
- Ongoing liaison with client contacts and agency partners across Europe to deliver internationally aligned, yet locally tailored, campaigns