CAMPAIGNS: Web launch - Shhhh! Don’t say a thing, but iWon

Client: iWon.com (Irvington, NY)

Client: iWon.com (Irvington, NY)

Client: iWon.com (Irvington, NY)



PR Team: Ruder-Finn (New York)



Campaign:: Launch of iWon.com



Time Frame: July 1999 to present



Budget: N/A (’healthy’)





When Bill Daugherty and Jonas Steinman hired Ruder-Finn to handle their

public relations in July, they did so with a catch: the agency could not

disclose the product until October 5, its official launch date. Everyone

involved had to sign a confidentiality agreement and all documents

related to the project had to be destroyed shortly after review. Even

the name - iWon.com - couldn’t appear in internal communications. It was

called Project Bulldog.



iWon.com, which is backed by CBS to the tune of dollars 100 million, is

an Internet portal, a gateway to the World Wide Web, that runs a

sweepstakes, giving away dollars 10,000 daily and dollars 1 million

monthly. On April 17 (tax day next year), one user will win the grand

prize: dollars 10 million.



So how do you do public relations for a company that doesn’t want you to

disclose its product?





Strategy



Ruder-Finn decided to create a broad-based campaign that went after

consumers, businesses and analysts, with an eye toward driving traffic

to iWon.com.



It also prepared to communicate CBS’ involvement and to continue

generating publicity after the start-up. Ultimately, it wanted to

promote iWon’s brand.





Tactics



Behind the scenes, Ruder-Finn met with Sapient, iWon.com’s technology

provider, to learn the workings, and with CBS, to coordinate

strategies.



’We also wanted to figure out a way to document everything that was

going on prior to launch without having the story come out,’ says agency

SVP Tony Telloni. They approached ABC’s Nightline and offered behind-

the-scenes access to the birth of an Internet company. ABC spent four

weeks with the founders. On October 5, iWon.com held a news conference

at CBS headquarters to launch the site.





Results



The press conference generated stories on the major networks, wire

services and newspapers, including The New York Times, The Wall Street

Journal and USA Today. Total reach topped 50 million impressions in the

first month, Ruder-Finn reported.



Meanwhile, the Nightline piece ’touched upon every one of the audiences

we wanted to hit, whether it was the advertisers, the consumers or the

business press,’ says Ruder-Finn managing director Richard Funess. Tens

of thousands of users registered immediately after the show aired

October 22. As for the business success of iWon.com, ’We’re exceeding

their expectations in terms of unique visitors, numbers and page views,’

Telloni says.





Future



Ruder-Finn wants to portray iWon.com as a fast-growing company and ’a

very credible portal that is amassing a number of unique users,’ Telloni

says. With five months to go until the big dollars 10 million giveaway,

they expect to generate great interest.



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