IPA Effectiveness Awards 2004: Gold Award - Best Integration - Sponsored by Royal Mail


Campaign: The Launch Of The Central London Congestion Charge

Client: Transport for London

Agencies: TBWA\London, Fishburn Hedges

Principal authors: Chris Baker, TBWA\London; Sue Garrard, Fishburn


Media used: TV, interactive, direct marketing, print, PR, press,

outdoor, radio, ambient, sales promotion


This is the case of the launch of the largest traffic-management system in the world, unique in scale, complexity and controversy. Without communicating with Londoners to let them know what to do when the Congestion Charge hit them, the predictions of chaos and confusion would have come true and the 30 per cent decrease in congestion would never have materialised.

The hype surrounding the charge was fuelled by an often hostile, negative media. Numerous factual errors about the charge published in the leading broadsheets didn't help either.

Of course, high awareness was important - everyone had to know what was coming. The solution was a "Q&A" approach, combined with the now-famous Congestion Charge "C" visual identity. Awareness of the £5 charge grew to 91 per cent, and 81 per cent of Londoners could name the date of the launch.

But, more importantly, the campaign had to ensure those drivers affected acted in time. The campaign prompted more than 500,000 pre-registrations for payment, discounts and exemptions by launch day - channels such as the internet and texting accounted for 25 per cent of payments. The London scheme has come to be regarded as a role model for other cities around the world.

The judges' view

An unusual but persuasive case study. This was a huge task. It is a fantastic example of strategic clarity, cross-channel integration and executional discipline. Not only was the charge itself successfully communicated, but consumer behaviour managed to ensure minimum fuss. Half-a-million pre-registrations were achieved despite the fog of editorial comment.

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