First Bus

PR Campaign with National Reach

What was it?

First Bus is one of the UK’s largest bus operators, delivering services from as far north as Aberdeen to as far south as Cornwall. In Essex, First operates a network of more than 70 bus services linking towns and villages across the region, connecting communities in Southend, Colchester, Chelmsford and Basildon.

First Essex had marketing objectives aimed at highlighting the ways in which it was part of the community, including the livery design of a ‘Poppy Bus’ to commemorate Remembrance Day and a ‘Santa Bus’ as a celebration of Christmas. KAT Marketing was asked to build a programme of activities around these bus designs to maximise the publicity around the buses, within both the local press and trade press.

What was involved?

KAT Marketing arranged for the ‘Poppy Bus’ to visit a children’s nursery and primary schools on the Colchester Garrison, with the KAT team running children’s activities on the bus. To mark the occasion of the ‘Poppy Bus’ entering public service for the first time, KAT organised a VIP tour for members of the military, representatives of the Royal British Legion and local dignitaries, which featured storytelling by a World War I re-enactment actor.

For the ‘Santa Bus’, KAT Marketing arranged for the bus to be onsite for Colchester’s annual Santa Run. Members of staff from First Essex recited a Christmas poem written by KAT Marketing as part of a video promotion, while the ‘Santa Bus’ also delivered gifts and food donations to local charities before becoming a stage for a live carol concert at a nursing home in Benfleet. All of this activity was supported by press releases to promote the work of First Essex within the local media.

First Essex in action

How did it go?

Coverage of the activities involving the ‘Poppy Bus’ and ‘Santa Bus’ featured prominently across 24 different media outlets including radio, TV and press. Of particular note is the video of the recited poem which was watched more than 1,300 times on Facebook.

The results
1,300 organic
video views
of poem
Stories placed
in 24 media
Front cover
splash in trade publication
The comments

I have worked with KAT Marketing on a range of projects, including the First Essex Remembrance Day bus launch in November 2021. The knowledgeable and experienced team came up with some great ideas for the launch, practical support in taking the bus to schools in Colchester, teaching children about the meaning of Remembrance, managing the relationships with the media and producing a great video and imagery.

Sheena Karim, Marketing Manager, First Essex