It's billed as the biggest change in retail since decimalisation. And we're not talking here about the arrival of Krispy Kreme doughnuts on these shores but the launch of "Chip and PIN", a programme that will change the way consumers charge purchases to their credit and debit cards.
By the end of 2005, the majority of UK cardholders will have new cards containing a chip that holds bank details more securely and enables users to enter a PIN number at point of purchase rather than signing a receipt.
Communicating this change is a massive task and the banking trade body, the Association for Payment Clearance Services, is putting £15 million into communicating the launch of the system with advertising created by Saatchi & Saatchi. It has already tested the cards at a trial in Northampton last summer.
The activity kicked off this week with ZenithOptimedia handling media planning and buying. The agency has been working on the launch plan for close to two years and its strategy grew out of consumer research conducted in October 2002.
ZenithOptimedia identified four elements to the campaign, which will target a broad audience of credit and debit card users: awareness, inform, reassure and prompt. It identified relevant media to achieve these four goals. TV for the awareness element of the campaign, press to inform consumers in more detail about Chip and PIN, radio to reassure users about the changes and, later in the process, outdoor to prompt users to act.
Catherine Becker, a ZenithOptimedia director, comments: "Many elements of the guidance communication strategy were tested in the trial in Northampton and we have a multimedia strategy in place that will give us a strong announcement in combination with information and reassurance.
"We also have a number of standout solutions to make the campaign work harder, including product placement, press ads in the shape of numbers matched to the page numbers in national and regional press and a media first of getting ITV to announce the first ad of the campaign at the beginning and end of the break in key peak spots in the first week."
Television activity will run across all major terrestrial channels and a large number of cable and satellite stations. Print ads follow a similar creative theme, using the line "These numbers make you feel safe" to highlight the issue of increased security. The press ads also play on the idea of numbers with creative appearing in the shape of numbers such as "7" and "4". For instance, last Monday creative in the shape of a number four ran on page four of The Guardian, Metro and the Daily Star.
Radio is being used to convey a more detailed message, intended to reassure listeners that the change won't be painful and that the new cards are easy to use and secure. The strategy was to go for an advertorial approach that links with PR activity planned through APACS's agency, Four. Older listeners will be targeted through daytime radio.
Outdoor, which will be bought through Meridian Outdoor, is likely to come into the mix later in the campaign when consumers are already aware of the Chip and PIN launch. The new PIN machines, which will be installed at 850,000 shop terminals, will also feature in scenes from the Sky One TV shows Dream Team and Mile High.
Media activity for the Chip and PIN launch seems to marry with the creative message. The effort put into the strategy is in keeping with the size of APACS's challenge in launching the cards but gives it every chance of success.
Client: Association for Payment Clearance Services
Media: TV, press, radio, outdoor, product placement, PR
Agencies: Saatchi & Saatchi, ZenithOptimedia, Meridian Outdoor, Four
Media idea: Combine strong awareness of the launch with a process of
informing and reassurance