BioCote, a company at the forefront of anti-microbial technology for the healthcare industry, wanted to launch a campaign to stimulate interest in its technology to widen its customer base, not just in the UK, but overseas too.
Unfortunately, anti-microbial technology just isnʼt sexy. Growing moulds and spores in a lab and looking at how silver ions can combat the growth of bacteria and diminish the risk of cross contamination is a little bit like watching paint dry from a media perspective. So we needed to find a way of grabbing the media, and the publicʼs attention, in terms of how many bugs are found on everyday products, and what can be done to combat them.
We thought long and hard about areas of high footfall and things that people ʻtouchedʼ. Shopping centres came out on top, so we thought about what those thousands of people passing through the nationʼs shopping centres would touch. Door handles are an obvious one, but then someone mentioned cash points.
All shopping centres tend to have an abundance of cash points, they also have their fair share of public toilets. The general public probably donʼt lie awake at night worrying about the cleanliness of cash points, but most have an opinion on public toilets, and itʼs usually negative. So we asked them. We conducted a survey into the perception of the UKʼs most dirty places.
We then decided to put perceptions to the test, and an undercover team swabbed a number of cash points and public toilets in and around UK shopping centres. The swabs were then sent to an independent lab, and we awaited the results with interest.
The story ʻdirty cashʼ was born. The qualitative data from the omnibus research, coupled with the quantitative research from the swabbing analysis provided an innovative spin on a traditional research story, which was consumer and media friendly but retained the client’s key messages.
We issued the story to the national print and broadcast media but genuinely had no idea as to scale of the story we had unleashed. As call after call came into the office from researchers and journalists, we knew the story would be huge. When the phone began to ring in the middle of the night from journalists across Asia, Australasia and America, we knew that this was one of the biggest stories any of us had ever been involved in.
When ‘America in The Morning’ called, having seen the story on CNN Worldwide, we were beginning to think we were imagining things, and Dr Richard Hastings, BioCoteʼs resident microbiologist, was asked to comment on the story around the world, and here in the UK on BBC Breakfast, Daybreak and Talk Sport.