CAMPAIGNS: Lavalife cultivates solid relationship with singles in US

PR Team: Lavalife (Toronto) and Mansfield Communications (New York) Campaign: "Where singles click" Time Frame: March through November 2002 Budget: over $2 million

PR Team: Lavalife (Toronto) and Mansfield Communications (New York) Campaign: "Where singles click" Time Frame: March through November 2002 Budget: over $2 million

Census data from 2001 showed an estimated 95 million Americans were single, and 50% of them were actively looking for someone to date. According to an article in USA Today from February 2002, the largest online dating services at the time - Match.com, Yahoo! Personals, and Matchmaker.com - were seeing major traffic increases in line with this statistic. Lavalife, a Canadian dating service with a US presence in telephone dating only, saw it as an opportune time to expand into the online market in the US. To do so, it sought the assistance of New York-based Mansfield Communications (MCI). Strategy Lavalife and MCI had three main objectives. First, they were looking to establish brand recognition in the US among urban and rural singles, as well as potential investors, alliance partners, and future employees. The company also wanted to emphasize its designated internet business unit to position itself as an expert on the technologies behind digital dating. And finally, they were looking to gain industry recognition for Lavalife CEO Peter Housley. "Our strategy was to get people to see that Lavalife is 'where singles click' to meet interesting people and have a good time, not necessarily get married," explains Nancy Tamosaitis, managing partner of MCI. "While marriage and serious unions are important to the Lavalife community, the company, unlike its competitors, does not measure success by the number of couples that walk down the aisle." Tactics To accompany Lavalife's ads in New York City's subways, billboards, and movie theatres, MCI employed several guerilla marketing tactics. It formed Team Lavalife, which participated in a bike-a-thon for charity. Additionally, it hired male and female singles to scatter about the city and hand out mint tins with the Lavalife logo on them. "This campaign was really about taking Lavalife to the streets," reflects Agneta Owen, VP of marketing for Lavalife. Further, "as a PR person, these hands-on activities were a great chance for me to see what types of people our users are," says Tamosaitis. Lavalife cites privacy of its users as a top priority, so even its PR firm doesn't have access to the information members reveal. Through media interviews and introductions to key players in the entertainment marketing space, CEO Housley was brought to the forefront. He appeared in a VNR, along with two Lavalife users who discussed how the online service has been useful in their lives. MCI also employed an inventive tactic that linked Lavalife to relevant entertainment news. The company offered a lifetime subscription to its services to all of the women rejected by Alex on ABC's The Bachelor. Results "Lavalife went from having zero recognition in the marketplace to its current position as one of the leading digital dating services in the US," says Tamosaitis. The effort resulted in over 161 million media impressions in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, AdWeek, AP, and CNN, to name a few. Membership numbers jumped from 2.3 million to 4.6 million. Media placements about Lavalife, as well as appearances by Housley, attracted marketing alliances with Vivendi Universal, MSNBC.com, easyEverything, and MuchMusic. Guerilla marketing tactics proved successful as well, when a post-launch survey revealed that 5% of respondents randomly said mints came to mind when they heard the name Lavalife. Future MCI has continued its relationship with Lavalife. Recently, the two embarked on a new campaign in association with the new Matthew McConaughey-Kate Hudson movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

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