CAMPAIGNS: CEO selling media on tech-enabled clothes via e-mail

PR Team: SCOTTeVEST (Ketchum, Idaho) and VerticalResponse (San Francisco) Campaign: E-mail news releases Time Frame: October 2001-ongoing Budget: Under $5,000 per month

PR Team: SCOTTeVEST (Ketchum, Idaho) and VerticalResponse (San Francisco) Campaign: E-mail news releases Time Frame: October 2001-ongoing Budget: Under $5,000 per month

In early 2001, Scott Jordan decided to make the fashion world more accommodating to mobile technology, an increasingly dominant feature in people's lives. Jordan released the SCOTTeVEST (SeV), a functional and stylish piece of clothing designed to discreetly hold a range of mobile technology, including cell phones, Palm Pilots, portable keyboards, magazines, two-way radios, cameras, and even small laptops. "The initial idea was to design clothing that took into account what people are carrying with them," says Jordan, CEO of SeV and Technology Enabled Clothing. "It was born out of my personal frustration with belt clips and ear buds and pockets that just weren't evolving with technology." Strategy With limited resources, Jordan decided to focus on PR as his primary marketing tool. After working with various PR professionals, he became exasperated with their narrow vision and their lack of understanding of the product's appeal. "Most people don't understand the product because its emphasis is on technology instead of apparel, a concept that the public is not yet familiar with," says Jordan. "Instead of trying to convince buyers, I went to the media, who understand the need. Reporters are always on the road with technology, and are therefore much easier customers to convince." Tactics In the face of doubt and ridicule, Jordan flew to New York and cold called Time magazine's editor from the lobby. He loved the concept, and ran a story two days later. Jordan then began using VerticalResponse, a web-based direct-e-mail marketing company, to shoot off thousands of e-mails every month to various publications and media outlets. He positioned himself as an accessible and committed CEO who was willing to devote himself to the marketing of his product. "My job is to package stories for the press to make their lives easier," says Jordan. "Not every CEO can make that commitment. I constantly try to keep the story fresh so they can write about me four times a year, and still feel that the story is new." Results The SeV became an immediate hit with techies, travelers, and the geek-chic crowd, who loved the ability to carry and use their electronics without being burdened by wires and bags. The SeV has received acclaim from most major media, including The New York Times (twice), The Early Show on CBS, CNN (twice), US News & World Report, BusinessWeek, Parade, The Wall Street Journal (three times), Entertainment Weekly, Good Housekeeping, GQ, Men's Health, Playboy, Time magazine, USA Today (three times), and many more. Furthermore, 2002 sales of the product reveal a growth of more than 1,500%, and more sales are expected in 2003. Neiman Marcus has included it in its catalogues, and the clothing is on display at the International Spy Museum because of its demand among undercover law-enforcement officers, such as the CIA, FBI, Secret Service, and other branches of the Department of Homeland Security. Even President Bush has been rumored to own an SeV, adorned with the Presidential seal. "Despite the fact that I've got lots of coverage, I'm convinced that advertising would have produced higher sales," says Jordan. "But what is my goal? Sales or changing the way people think about clothing? I'm focused on the latter." Future Jordan will continue with his VerticalResponse e-mail campaign, and also plans on becoming more involved with trade shows. "The end goal, business-wise, is to license the Technology Enabled Clothing brand to Patagonia, Northface, or another larger company," says Jordan. Peter Shankman, president of former tech firm the Geek Factory, is a devoted fan of the product, and a huge admirer of Jordan's innovation. "[The product] is light years ahead in form, function, and fashion," says Shankman. "At some point, the big companies are going to realize that everyone's talking about the vest and are going to stock it. If that works, then you have justified any nontraditional PR campaign that ever existed."

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