When I first joined Codemasters in 1985 it was a new company andÂ I was in charge of all marketing. As we were selling budget games for Â£1.99 each there was not muchÂ money to spend on anything. So I had to get the absolute maximum out of every marketing penny. Public relations became the core tool, it is just so cost effective.
The idea was to go for the broadest coverage in mass popular media with stories based on the youth and success of the Darling brothers. But which PR company could be trusted with this great story and my precious budget? Previous experience had told me that these companiesÂ vary greatly in what they deliver.
So I hit upon a crafty plan. I rang journalists who covered more matureÂ popular culture industriesÂ such as popular music and film. And across a few different media includingÂ national daily newspapers, TV and radio. I chatted to all these journalists and asked them which PR companies looked after them well and gave them good stories. Gradually a picture emerged of a very small number of PR companies that delivered. And of these one was head and shoulders above the others. Lynne Franks. Who, famously, later became the real life person that Absolutely Fabulous was based on.
Lynne Franks were incredibly professional, hardworking and slightly zany. They also delivered massive results. Soon David and Richard were in every Sunday newspaper colour supplement with multi page features, they were regulars on weekend kids TV and they had become minor celebrities. I was still doing the specialist press PR myself and this new found fame made doing my job a whole lot easier. The games press love to write about people in the industry who are household names.
So our sales went up. A lot. We ended up with over 27% of the total UK market for computer games. In our first year of trading.
Of course this success led to us being copied. A few other game companies also went to Lynne Franks. Because they had Chinese Walls between theirÂ PRÂ teamsÂ (from handling several different fashion designers) they were able to handle this with no conflict. But they never achieved such spectacularÂ results as weÂ had because we had a better story and we were first.