Government seeks 'Fire kills' campaign support from B&Q and Homebase

Homebase: one of the brands set to be approached by the government
Homebase: one of the brands set to be approached by the government

DIY retailers B&Q and Homebase are among brands set to be approached by the government to help deliver a fire prevention campaign.

David Watson, the head of marketing overseeing the Department for Communities and Local Government's (DCLG) 'Fire kills' activity, is looking to plug a £3m shortfall in funding that has arisen as a result of the government's spending cuts.

In 2009/10, the campaign was backed by a media spend of £4m, but this has been reduced to less than £1m.

Watson is approaching potential partners with the message that this is an opportunity to prove their commitment to the government's 'Big society' initiative.

He hopes ultimately to form and chair a steering board of public, private and voluntary-sector organisations to oversee 'Fire kills'.

DCLG is already in discussions with convenience-store group Nisa-Today over potential collaboration. It is also due to hold a meeting with battery brand Energizer, and will approach the DIY retailers in the next few weeks. In addition, it will speak to the Association of British Insurers about encouraging the participation of insurance brands.

DIY retailers have previously supported the 'Fire kills' messaging by running promotional weeks in stores, but Watson is hoping for what he described as a more 'fundamental shift in approach'.

'What we're going to be doing over the next few weeks is approaching (DIY brands), asking them for something that's much more substantial, in terms of point-of-sale in their outlets and in terms of the communications (with which they target) their customers focusing on safety,' he said.

'This is a win-win,' added Watson. 'For them it's a driver of sales and for us it's reinforcing both the installation of smoke alarms and testing.'

DCLG is handling the initiative in-house, with 'practical assistance' from the COI. It hopes the strategy will bolster its advertising, which has returned after an eight-month hiatus due to the government's freeze on marketing.

The government's Efficiency and Reform Group has approved spending on the campaign over the rest of the financial year, deeming its aim of reducing house fires and saving lives as 'essential'. It has requested a report on the effectiveness of the campaign.

The 'Fire kills' campaign, by RKCR/Y&R, features print and radio activity. However, TV advertising has been ruled out.

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