Newspaper Brands Online: Creative Solution: National Express

The story

National Express wanted to gain new customers in the summer peak and acquire customer data for future marketing. The answer was its "Discover Britain" campaign, which ran in print and online across the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and People newspaper titles.

There were three main elements to the campaign, which was co-ordinated by Michael Willatt, the innovations senior account manager at the Mirror Group, working with the National Express media agency, MPG. National Express challenged the Mirror to alert all customers, including infrequent travellers, to its range of summer 2008 offers - including a £1 fare on selected routes. It wanted the public to know destinations across the country and special events were within easy reach at a fraction of the cost of train travel. Secondary aims were to highlight modern features such as e-booking, more spacious seating and on-board Wi-Fi, and to generate new consumer data.

The ten-week integrated campaign launched with an eight-page special in the Daily Mirror and a 21-page microsite, which directed people to a bespoke National Express retail page where they could register for the £1 ticket offer.

There were three further four-page features in the Daily Mirror and a four-pag feature in The People, promoted on the front page. The Sunday Mirror ran a front-page marketing promotion with further marketing space inside the paper. Online drivers included promotional advertising on the mirror.co.uk homepage.

The promotion ran in the paper on 31 days over the summer, including five front-page teasers in the print edition, 19 in the TV listings, and a page two in-paper promotion.

To inspire readers with travel ideas, travel guides to key destinations, such as Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds, were published in the print newspaper and were available online as PDFs for readers to download. The travel guides were amplified online with six five-minute vodcast city guides, presented by the journalist Ted Thornhill, and an interactive map highlighting cities featured in the promotion.

To boost involvement, readers were invited to upload their own photos of their favourite place in Britain. The prize for the best photo was free National Express coach travel for a year, and the best 12 photos featured on a 2009 calendar, downloadable from mirror.co.uk.

There were six million ad impressions served across mirror.co.uk, split equally between leaderboards, MPUs and skyscrapers. These directed users to the microsite. All communications had clear links to the microsite and to the National Express site to book tickets.

There were 84,486 unique visitors to the microsite and 170,175 page views, and 77,866 users were redirected to the National Express retail site. There were 2,001 views of the vodcasts, 2,993 downloads of the city guides and 1,124 page views of the calendar.

Seventy-two thousand people signed up for the £1 ticket offer from National Express from the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror, and 2,500 from The People. About 80 per cent were new customers.

"We chose the Mirror as the partner for the National Express 'Discover Britain' campaign as the Mirror offered the perfect brand proposition and national reader profile for our target audience," Martyn Stokes, the head of integrated communications at MPG, said. "The campaign was a unique multimedia solution that brought to life the unique proposition of National Express and the breadth of routes and services offered to travellers. The editorial travel content and the video podcasts were seamlessly aligned with the rest of the newspaper and we were delighted with the response we received, driving significant traffic to the £1 offer."

To see more digital images, go to www.nmauk.co.uk/digital