Fusion Garage uses ruse to launch new tablet

Fusion Garage suffered brand damage after its JooJoo tablet failed in 2010.

Client: Fusion Garage (Singapore)
Agency: McGrath/Power (San Jose, CA)
Campaign: Grid-10 tablet launch
Duration: March – August 15
Budget: about $900,000 (including Twitter promoted trends and videos)

Fusion Garage (FG) suffered brand damage after its JooJoo tablet failed in 2010. To help circumvent the damage and give FG's new Grid-10 tablet a fair shot at launch in August, the company and AOR McGrath/Power carefully executed a ruse in which a fake company called TabCo teased audiences with hints about an innovative new tablet.

“PR allowed us to get the message out in an independent fashion and let the product be judged on its merits,” says FG founder Chandra Rathakrishnan.

Strategy
McGrath/Power CEO Jonathan Bloom says a leading IT security expert shrouded outbound emails and TabCo's online properties until the August 15 Grid-10 launch announcement.

Skywriting, videos, and media and blogger alerts fueled intrigue and drove traffic to www.WhoIsTabco.com and TabCo Facebook and Twitter pages.

Bloom says playing the campaign “over the top” diverted attention from FG and amplified buzz.

“[Few] people gave FG a chance to reemerge,” Bloom explains. “This was a runway for gradual reemergence.”

Tactics
The campaign kicked off with skywriting planes spelling out “Forget The Fruit – Go TabCo,” and “www.WhoIsTabco.com” above Moscone Center in San Francisco on the second day of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (June 7).

A video of the skywriting and crowd reaction and five subsequent videos, which include parodies of industry issues, were posted to the website and YouTube.

Website blog posts penned by a fictitious TabCo CEO also drove engagement.

Cloaked emails directed tech and consumer media and tech bloggers to videos. Disposable phones were used if calls were necessary.

Select media got pizzas with pepperoni slices spelling out the launch date and Rubik's cubes embedded with Grid-10 attributes.

Paid Twitter trends ran July 6 and 20, and August 3, 8, and 15.

An August 15 taped webcast hosted by Thomson Reuters revealed FG and the Grid-10. Rathakrishnan then explained the campaign and demonstrated the tablet in one-on-one media interviews.

Results
Given pre-orders, Rathakrishnan believes the Grid-10 will be successful.

Bloom says 1 million hits within the first hour of the skywriting crashed www.WhoIsTabCo.com. Weekly visitors subsequently ranged from 50,000 to 1 million, and Bloom notes multiple sophisticated hacker attacks.

Three of the top 10 Twitter trends on August 15 were TabCo-related (one paid; two organic), which Rathakrishnan says was a first for Twitter.

Bloom reports “hundreds” of stories in outlets including Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal, and Engadget.

More than 60,000 Twitter followers and nearly 2,000 Facebook likes were garnered.

Future
The team continues promoting the Grid-10's unique and alternative aspects.

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