How original copywriting revved up renewals for Top Gear Magazine

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About the client

A spinoff from the TV show of the same name, Top Gear is one of the most popular car magazine brands in the UK, and is licensed to other countries by the publisher, Immediate Media Co.

What did they want?

Sunfish was commissioned to write a renewal series – a timed set of communications encouraging subscribers to renew their subscription before it expires. Two specific goals were to increase the number of Direct Debit subscribers and to increase the proportion of responses coming back via the web.

How we went about it

One of the luxuries of a renewal series is that you get to try different approaches. For this letter, I wrote adopting the persona of the show’s spokesman, Jeremy Clarkson. His tone of voice is instantly recognisable and I felt it would be an interesting angle to imagine he was irritated by the subscriber’s failure to renew.

The writing

I broke a number of rules in writing this letter, including the one that says you should never be rude to your customers. The letter was a two-sided rant against political correctness, insinuating that a failure to renew was a failure to be cool. Subtleties included a shot of Mr Clarkson looking out of the window of a Porsche 911 that we positioned so his eyeline led directly to the order form.

The results

The results confirmed our hunch. Sometimes you can break all the rules and still get the return on investment the client wants to see. The campaign delivered against the targets set by the client.

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