The role of PR in changing perceptions
A Skoda case study

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Page 5: Marketing the Octavia

Skoda 5 Image 6Marketers need to understand who their customers are likely to be. An on-going image and awareness tracking study was used to build up profiles of owners who might profess an interest in buying an Octavia. The Octavia clearly identified a new target market - different to the Felicia target market.

Octavia owners were likely to be:

  • younger
  • family men and working women
  • more highly qualified and in professional occupations.

Socio-economic grouping provides a reliable picture of the relationship between occupation and income and also helps to provide a basis for understanding their priorities and needs. In terms of media consumption, those likely to buy the Octavia are likely to read more broadsheet newspapers than Felicia owners and are best represented by ABC1 TV audiences.

Developing positive perceptions has become central to the marketing strategy for Skoda. Marketing is the process of developing and implementing a strategy to plan and co-ordinate ways of identifying, anticipating and satisfying consumer demands, in such a way as to make profits or satisfy a range of other marketing objectives. It is this strategic planning process which is at the heart of marketing.

Skoda’s marketing strategy involves a variety of approaches. The strategy has been designed to communicate clear brand messages through the promotional mix, whilst expressing brand values and the ownership experience.

Marketing activities include:

  • exposure marketing events organised nationally and at dealer level
  • test drive campaigns
  • 'The Skoda Challenge' - a test drive at dealerships where potential customers are invited to drive both Skoda and competitor models
  • local and national press advertisements
  • television advertising of brand values
  • public relations and publicity activities with both print and broadcast media
  • local sponsorship activities
  • dealer marketing where dealers are encouraged to integrate their marketing into national initiatives for maximum effect. This involves sponsoring local events and devising customer rewards for customer loyalty.

Skoda had several communication objectives when marketing the Octavia. These were:

  • the Octavia is a completely new and modern car to appeal to different car segment customers
  • Skoda customers get much more for their money compared to competitor models
  • the Octavia is designed with the same quality standards as any Volkswagen Group product
  • the Octavia experience is a Skoda experience.

The advertisements for the Octavia comprise straightforward messages communicating 'the way things should be', showing the car's design and specification. This theme has been carried across press, poster and TV advertising, all shown in sepia colour, defining a unique marketing territory for Skoda - communicating the ownership experience and brand values. Skoda has also helped dealers prepare for growth through marketing and product training.

The role of press and public relations in the Octavia launch

The press and public relations department was established in 1995 and is responsible for creating and implementing the brand’s PR strategy. Since the launch of the Felicia in 1995, the role of press and public relations has been fundamental in communicating the huge changes to the Skoda brand. The first task was to create a relationship between the brand and the media. This was achieved with press releases, press product launches, regional press tours, factory visits to the Czech Republic and briefings with journalists. This strategy has paid dividends in the amount of editorial coverage seen in the media.

The press strategy focused on communicating how Skoda has changed, e.g. Volkswagen’s involvement and investment, new products, associated products, new factory, new manufacturing plant, dealers, history and heritage. Every aspect of the brand and how it operates was communicated to the press and public to create a new understanding of the brand.

The Octavia press campaign was fuelled by the huge success which Octavia achieved in Europe. During 1997, the car was short-listed for the European Car of the Year and the brand became the fastest growing car brand in central Europe, overtaking Fiat which had held that position for almost ten years.


Skoda | The role of PR in changing perceptions