Paul Holmes 13 May 2005 // 11:00PM GMT
The United Nations Charter for Children states: “The basic right of every child is to receive a good education and grow up in a healthy, happy and secure environment.”
Each year in Turkey, thousands of children are either injured or die as a result of avoidable accidents. The most common cause of death among children between the ages 5 to 14 is as a result of an accident. Most could have been avoided if children knew how to avoid accidents. But in the rural areas education is not easily accessible, and for many children it involves traveling long distances to school. In some instances due to the fact that there are not enough teachers; children attend empty classes, while others only receive a basic education in reading and writing.
As a result, the overall quality of education is extremely poor due to overcrowded classes. Although children at primary school learn about accidents in the home, on the roads and earthquakes they fail to apply this knowledge. This led Aygaz corporation to develop the Aygaz Cautious Child Education Program, which was intended to support the education of these children in practical terms.
The into perceptions of Aygaz and its competitors was conducted over a three-month period across seven stakeholder groups: 418 employees, 1336 public, 56 businessmen, 54 media outlets, 30 government officials, 41 NGOs, 124 investors. The research indicated that the company’s reputation would increase if it conducted more social responsibility programs.
The company set out to instruct minimum of 60.000 primary school children annually about the basic principles of safety; to visit a minimum of 15 provinces and 50 administrative districts annually in the main rural areas served by Aygaz; to present Aygaz as socially responsible company to its stakeholders; to strengthen relationships between Aygaz, its dealers and its consumers, creating and arranging opportunities for Aygaz dealers to meet their customers; and to achieve local and national media coverage.
The strategy was to create a campaign that would develop familiarity and loyalty for Aygaz in the selected local areas.
The campaign was developed as a road tour of Turkey, which delivered educational seminars for school children between the ages of 6-11 in primary schools, followed by a professional interactive theater play at a central theater venue for all of the schools in the area, focusing on the five main safety topics, reinforcing the messages taught at the educational seminars.
The PR team established a Critical Path Analysis for the program which identified school locations and number of pupils, routes, timetable, resources required (people, budget); led to the creation of the campaign character, Aycan; and the development of content and interactive presentation format for the seminars (interactive dialogue, competitions, music format, scripts, props, presenter stands, a monopoly based floor game and the Aycan Dance).
The campaign was launched with a national press conference. Personal invitations were sent to more than 60 journalists. At the press conference, the General Manager of Aygaz announced the purpose of the campaign and introduced members of the team. Each member of the media received a pack, which contained: news release, profile of Aygaz, the tour route and dates, copies of campaign visuals: logo, educational materials including examples of the gifts, posters and key messages.
In addition, the media story and program details together with photographs were distributed to all national and regional media throughout Turkey. This was repeated at each major media center where the program team visited fronted by the Regional Sales Manager.
Before the program could begin, permissions were required from National Education Offices in order to interact with State Schools. Planning meetings with local school and the authorities followed. On the day, the team arrives in the morning, they set up the display stands, music system, monopoly floor game, and prepare to meet the children.
The instructors present information on the five main subjects, followed by Aycan, whose main function is to repeat the lessons through games, songs, dances and questions based on the Monopoly format. Each child then receives a gift bag and a Cautious Child Certificate. The gift bag includes all of the material mentioned above, including Aycan leaflets focusing on each of the five dangers to be aware of, plus details of their local Aygaz dealers from where they can get their theater invitation.
In order for the child and his family to attend the central theater presentation, they visit their local dealer to obtain free tickets.
All shows are presented at a central location in daytime after school. The show is based on the key messages of the seminars using interaction between the actors and the children through songs, dancing and questions. The children were provided accident insurance during the theater periods.
In each of the provinces local media were invited. Press releases were issued during the campaign period, updating the success and progress of the program, which were covered by daily and regional press, lifestyle magazines, television and radio. Thus, advertorials in child magazines, teaching the campaign’s topics were used. To increase the campaign awareness among a wider audience a mini-documentary film was produced. An electronic media information file was established on the company’s website which allowed media access to current information and the latest photography.
Post campaign research realized at the end of 2003, aimed to identify any change in the attitude of the target audience towards Aygaz and the achievements of the program. The methodology was one to one interviews across 226 sets of children and parents who participated in the program; and 74 sets of parents and children who did not, 79 teachers who participated and 24 who did not, plus 51 dealers. This gave a research base of 754 candidates who were asked a total of 21 questions on Recall, Educational Value; Content, Team Members, Seminar, Theater Workshop and attitude to Aygaz.
Between the periods April 2002 and January 2005, 280.000 children attended the program; 60 provinces, 205 Administrative districts and 629 schools in 7 regions of Turkey were visited. More than 7,000 teachers were given information about the program through letters and packs. The figures included 9 orphanages at which 950 children benefited from the program.
The pre-research indicated that 85.7 percent of the stakeholders were aware of Aygaz and 68.5 percent of them had a positive attitude to Aygaz.
Post research showed that 93.8 percent of children were aware of Aygaz of which 86.7 percent had positive attitudes. 86.7 percent of parents were aware of Aygaz of which 88.5 percent have positive attitudes. 92 percent of teachers were aware of Aygaz of which 90 percent had positive attitudes. The dealers’ positive attitudes increased to 86.3 percent. It is obvious that for all of the stakeholders, the awareness and positive attitude numbers are increased after the campaign.
Research data confirmed an improvement in the awareness and relationship between Aygaz and its dealers and consumers. The campaign involved the active support of 420 dealers. There are requests from dealers and schools to visit more schools or repeat the program. The post-research showed that 92 percent of the dealers want the program to be repeated in their area and 96 percent of them want to participate in the program.
The requirement to visit the Aygaz dealer’s offices to collect the free theater workshop tickets was the mechanic used to evaluate this part of the program. Approximately 143.000 families visited Aygaz dealers and collected tickets. The dealers wish the program to return to their areas to extend the opportunities for them to meet their customers.
Media coverage included 191 articles in local and national press. 117 newspapers and 74 magazines.