IMMEDIATE FUTURE, Kingston Upon Thames / SONY / 2009
The campaign aimed to launch Sony’s latest product, a dancing MP3 player called Rolly, in Europe. The US launch of Rolly had met with a poor reception; the product, designed primarily for a Japanese market, did not translate to American technology early adopters and technology media.
Sony Europe’s PR team and their digital PR agency immediate future devised a strategy that deliberately avoided these audiences in Europe. Rolly was positioned as a ‘cultural catalyst’ amongst an online community of creative collaborators, who were given the freedom to showcase the product’s capabilities.
Social networks were used to identify and engage with this new target audience (known as Slash/Slashers) across Europe. Targets had exclusive access to Rolly, and were encouraged to share videos of themselves experimenting with Rolly online.A cult of Rolly enthusiasts was formed, who began to evangelise about the product to their peer groups. A groundswell of positive sentiment built online that would, in turn, influence a wider audience.
Over 70 clips were uploaded and the buzz generated saw Rolly accepted by the media (with positive reviews and an award from Stuff magazine). Sales for Rolly across Europe were 150 per cent higher than forecast.
Over 100 contacts across Europe were identified, using social networks. This phase took over two months, followed by the relationship building outlined above. Once people agreed to participate they were loaned a Rolly and asked to create content. Over 65 per cent of those targeted made a video.
These were posted online to social networks, blogs, and video sharing platforms like YouTube. An official microsite was created to showcase the videos. Activity ran from May 2008 to August 2008.
There was no guarantee that people getting involved in the project would produce suitable content, or that videos would viral across the web. These targets were not being paid, so no pressure could be put on them.The implementation reflected the innovation of the idea; no part of the original plan was compromised. There was no reliance on advertising, competitions or other marketing activity – the launch hinged on the PR plan.
Objectives set for the campaign were:Increase search engine visibility – 1,170,000 returns generated by search term ‘Sony Rolly’ prior to ‘official’ launch (source: Google)Drive traffic to Rolly microsite – 159,083 visits to www.sony.co.uk/rolly in the period August ‘08 – September ‘08Build buzz online ahead of the official launch – 16,736 blog posts returned against ‘Sony Rolly’ prior to ‘official’ launch (source: Google)Ensure a positive response from technology media – 100 per cent of online reviews positive in nature, with Rolly winning ‘Cool Toy Of The Year’ in the 2008 Stuff Awards15 product reviews to be published – 15 achieved60 per cent of targets to return content – 65 per cent of Slash/Slashers returned video/photo content Videos to achieve minimum 250,000 views on video sharing platforms –323,605 video views achievedAs a result of positive chatter, sales across Europe were 150 per cent higher than originally forecast.
TBWA\MEDIA ARTS LAB, Los angeles