Samsung sells new category

MWW Group was named AOR across all Samsung divisions in May 2006, but its focus was primarily on mobile phones. Samsung was well known for innovative, sleek, and stylish phones, but virtually unknown for its accessories.

MWW Group was named AOR across all Samsung divisions in May 2006, but its focus was primarily on mobile phones. Samsung was well known for innovative, sleek, and stylish phones, but virtually unknown for its accessories.

Samsung tasked MWW to raise awareness as it pushed into the accessories market.

"Samsung wanted to go from zero awareness to being seen as a player in this market - it's a big chasm," says MWW VP Eric Villines. "Accessories aren't highly covered. As a pilot program, we wanted a 10% to 20% increase in sales."

There wasn't enough time or resources to address the entire accessory portfolio, so the team chose one "iconic" product.

Strategy

The team felt that the WEP200, a tiny wireless earpiece, showcased Samsung's overall brand image of innovation and style. To persuade reporters to look at the category and cover it, the team focused on the WEP200's unique qualities: size, design, and price.

Limited time, money, and products on-hand narrowed the focus to lifestyle, urban, and tech media. Internet outreach would target influential online tech and fashion bloggers and outlets.

"We wanted positive reviews, and getting those reviews and photo placements would drive direct-to-consumer," Villines says, "[and also give us] materials that can be repurposed for retailers. Ability to repurpose what we do is hugely impactful to sales."

Quantifying the work was one of MWW's goals. Because Samsung was the sole distributor of its accessories, tracking sales would be relatively easy.

"We could correlate what we were doing daily with direct-to-consumer sales through the Web site," Villines explains.

Tactics

Special product shots were developed to show perspective on the product's size and style.

"We didn't have a large number of review and demo units," says Villines. "We set up a lifestyle photo shoot to add context. We put the product next to a paper clip to get immediate impact of size and worked with models to show it in the ear."

Reaching tech and fashion bloggers was key. MWW invited them to press events and treated them as "tier-one" media. "If Gizmodo puts a photo [on its Web site], it's where the conversation begins," Villines notes.

The team also leveraged the launch of new cell phones by pairing them with WEP200 headsets at events or in press kits. "It's a difficult product to demo," Villines says. "You need a phone to activate it."

Results

"The program did exactly what we wanted and more," says Samsung's Kim Titus, senior manager of PR for wireless terminals. "We were able to get our message of innovation out and to draw a line for our folks internally to the benefit of PR to a product campaign. There's a direct line on this product from what we do in a PR venue to sales."

August to October sales of the WEP200 increased 180% over May to July sales. "We also saw a halo effect, which we weren't expecting, of a 40% overall sales increase of all accessories," Villines says.

Coverage included The New York Times, Maxim, Vibe, and BET's HotWyred.

Future

"MWW will continue to promote accessories on a product-specific basis in what makes sense for a particular accessory," Titus says. "They're best shown off with our phones, and we'll continue to couple them in that way."

Samsung

PR team: Samsung Telecommunications America (Richardson, TX) and MWW Group (Dallas, TX)

Campaign: Samsung Mobile Accessory Awareness

Duration: July to October 2006

Budget: Less than $20,000

PRWeek's view

Sales impact is impressive and testimony to the power of carefully selecting and targeting key influencers. MWW was wise to use the blogosphere and online outlets to help persuade the media to cover the category and the product. It's a great example of how far you can go by getting information into the right hands.

Also, rather than overwhelm media with an onslaught of products, the team smartly selected one that could highlight the entire brand.

The product shots were well done and served to pique interest, while also solving the problem of limited product supply.

Pairing headsets with the phones should help momentum moving forward.

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