BrandContent wins two awards after uncovering currency scandal

We’re thrilled to have scooped two awards at this year’s prestigious PRCA DARE Awards – after exposing the Post Office for unfair currency charges.

The BrandContent team picked up awards in the Campaign Challenges Award and Low Budget Campaign at the Marriot Royal Hotel in Bristol last night for uncovering the currency scandal on behalf of our client, travel money specialist FairFX.

As masses of people were about to embark on a break over August Bank Holiday Weekend in 2015, we launched an exclusive investigative media campaign to demonstrate the good value of FairFX products compared with other providers such as the Post Office and challenging consumers’ default behaviour when it comes to getting travel money, which is often to default to institutions they trust. 

It turned out the Post Office’s customers’ trust was greatly misplaced.

With only 21 hours (including sleeping time) and one day of budget, we launched an investigation proving the Post Office was operating a postcode lottery when it came to currency charges.

From FairFX competitor benchmarking, we knew there were discrepencies in the currency rates being charged between different Post Office branches across London. This insight caused us to question whether there were different rates being charged in Post Office branches across the rest of the UK too which we decided to investigate.

We took our campaign idea to the Press Association to ascertain media interest before going ahead. The editor was really interested there was one snag; he wanted the story by the next day, meaning we had only 21 hours to carry out the investigation, analyse and deliver the results to him!  It was nearly 3pm, there was only one member of the PR team in the office, and we had to find people all over the country to go to their local Post office between 9am-11am the next day to conduct the investigation.

We used Facebook and Twitter to recruit 20 moles to visit Post Office branches across the UK, the next morning.

As the evidence came in, we found huge inconsistencies in what the Post Office were charging people to buy their currency across the country with no valid explanation. We found some Post Office customers were paying 47 euros more for every 500 Euros exchanged compared with if they had visited a Post Office in other parts of the country or even the city.

What made our findings even more poignant was that 9 out of 10 people bought their currency in Post Office branches –  meaning a lot of people were losing a lot of money.

The campaign generated 122 pieces of consumer press coverage across a number of nationals and regional publications across the UK, delivering blanket coverage with a reach of 4.5 million people.

FairFX, was over the moon with the results and Mariette Ferreira, head of marketing, said the campaign was “executed perfectly and every detail very tightly managed.”

Our Managing Director Sharon Flaherty said: “This campaign was a great example of good old-fashioned investigative journalism – no surveys – combined with digital technology to expose a national scandal.

“We’re so proud of these two awards – but more proud to have helped FairFX to expose make consumers aware of these travel money traps they can fall into.”

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