CAMPAIGNS: Beenz stirs up a hive of publicity - Hi-Tech PR

Beenz is the name of a new, on-line currency. An innovative concept in the world of e-commerce, Beenz are electronic credits which can be earned by shopping on-line or even by simply visiting a web site.

Beenz is the name of a new, on-line currency. An innovative concept

in the world of e-commerce, Beenz are electronic credits which can be

earned by shopping on-line or even by simply visiting a web site.



Like other currencies, Beenz can be saved and spent. There are personal

Beenz bank accounts for saving: should you wish to spend your

hard-earned virtual currency, participating web sites will give you

discounts on purchases or access to information in exchange for

Beenz.



The Beenz Company, a brand new firm backed by personal investment from

the UK and US, hired Band and Brown Communications to launch Beenz in

the UK and Europe.



Objectives



To generate a high level of awareness of the Beenz brand among consumers

and to educate businesses and web site owners about the commercial

potential of Beenz.



Tactics



The creative strategy behind the launch of Beenz was to contrast the

hi-tech, up-beat nature of the Beenz brand against the formality of

traditional money.



Two distinct elements were devised: a guerrilla marketing teaser

campaign and an educational media relations campaign.



To create pre-launch excitement, the agency mailed key technology and

business writers a personalised spoof bank statement where all the

transactions were recorded in Beenz rather than sterling. The only clue

to the sender was the web address, www.beenz.com, which invited visitors

to e-mail the agency for further information. This generated a hit list

of dozens of journalists anxious to hear the Beenz story.



At the same time, Band and Brown hired a security truck which was

branded with the Beenz logo and web site address.



The truck toured London and Manchester, visiting media headquarters

throughout both cities. Cash machines in London were fly-posted with the

Beenz logo.



Press briefings were arranged to follow up the launch activity. All the

UK national newspapers attended an interview, along with the key

pan-European titles, the newswires and foreign press agencies. In total,

more than 35 one-to-one interviews took place.



At the same time, Middleberg and Associates, Band and Brown’s New York

affiliate, executed a similar PR strategy in the US.



Results



In terms of raising awareness of the Beenz brand, there have been

numerous opportunities to see the story. So far it has been covered by

Bloomberg TV in Spanish, Italian and English; on radio on Radio 5, Radio

1, Virgin Radio, Classic FM, BBC World Service, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC

Radio Solent and GLR; in 12 national newspapers and four pan-European

titles; along with 40 regional papers and 15 marketing and IT titles. A

total of 37 on-line web cuttings were also generated.



The educational campaign seems to have been a success too - more than 25

electronic traders have signed up to offer Beenz and a further 100

applications are being processed. Beenz reports that 10,000 people have

opened accounts.



Verdict



Yet another internet start-up company launching into the crowded

e-commerce market is not a dream ticket for a PR agency, but by fusing

guerrilla tactics with a massive media relations push, Band and Brown

caught the attention of internet-weary journalists and handed them all

the tools to build a story.



One newspaper business journalist, who wished to remain anonymous, said:

’Band and Brown had everything you needed to make the story work - the

people behind Beenz, customers who had signed up and background

information. All the pieces were in place.’



Client: The Beenz Company

PR Team: Band and Brown Communications

Campaign: Launch of Beenz

Timescale: March 1999

Budget: Undisclosed



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