COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: RNLI lifeboat appears in advert for French cars

KIRSTEN DOWNER

The Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) hopes to reach millions of young potential supporters through a new car advertisement.

The campaign for the new Peugeot 307 appears to be about a sea rescue until the last frame. The first scene shows a ship in troubled waters, letting off a white flare. Ensuing scenes show a dentist, father, goalkeeper and schoolteacher - all lifeboat men - rushing off to the quay as if to a rescue.

But in the final scene the audience learns that rather than going out to save a ship in distress, all the men have rushed down to the quay to meet a delivery of brand new Peugeot 307s.

The ad, which runs at peak time on a mixture of terrestrial and satellite channels for three weeks, is expected to be seen by about 75 per cent of the population, said the RNLI. In addition, a spin-off European ad goes out later this year. RNLI's brand is featured prominently throughout the ad, on flags, uniforms and on an actual RNLI lifeboat itself.

The advert gives the RNLI the chance to reach numbers which most "charities can only dream of", said Paul Kelway, press officer with the RNLI. The charity acted as consultants to the creative agency, helping to influence the ad's content, said Kelway.

In return, the charity got its expenses and staff time covered, an undisclosed donation and a free Peugeot 307, which it will use in a fundraising event to raise up to £250,000.

The RNLI managed to strike a good deal, said Kelway, because Peugeot's PR company had already decided to run an ad with a lifeboat theme - whether with the RNLI's help or not.

"We felt that this was an opportunity for some positive PR for us, a cost-effective way of raising our profile, particularly among younger sections of the population - one of the RNLI's major PR objectives,

said Kelway.

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