McAfee goes to the movies to raise cyber crime awareness

Though nearly everyone has heard the staggering statistics on cyber crime, the marketing team at McAfee wondered if the gravity of the issue was truly sinking in.

Company: McAfee
Agency Mix: Tribal DDB Worldwide, Red Consultancy
In-house team: Michael Busselen, SVP of external communications; Francie Coulter, director of consumer PR; Bob Kennedy, director of global advertising
Lead agency: Tribal DDB Worldwide
Campaign: H*Commerce: The Business of Hacking You

Though nearly everyone has heard the staggering statistics on cyber crime, the marketing team at McAfee wondered if the gravity of the issue was truly sinking in. So it decided to make the statistics more personal by spotlighting the story of Janella Spears, a woman who lost more than $440,000 through a complex cyberscam, in an on-line film series available at www.stophcommerce.com.

“We do not suffer from an awareness issue; our brand is well-known from a consumer level,” says Michael Busselen, SVP of global external communications at McAfee. “The bigger challenge is convincing people that they need more protection – and the level of protection goes beyond simple anti-virus.”

Ad agency Tribal DDB developed the creative strategy and handled production of the documentary, he adds. The team commissioned Hollywood director and documentary filmmaker Seth Gordon to direct the six-part series, H*Commerce: The Business of Hacking You and supported the effort with billboard ads.

“We took a really new media approach to this,” Busselen notes. “By finding a compelling story and telling it, ultimately we'd get the lift we wanted by having people understand the issue.”

Red Consultancy planned the event and media strategy surrounding the film's premiere on May 18. The team held a red carpet event in San Francisco and invited local businesses and media outlets including The New York Times, Fortune, Forbes, and Silicon Valley Watcher, as well as trade titles. Thus far, McAfee has secured 665 pieces of coverage.

“This was a tightly joined effort in that if PR was not driving media interest then the advertising elements would not have been successful,” says Alice Chan, SVP and GM at Red Consultancy.

In addition to traditional media outreach, the PR and ad teams joined to create a Facebook fan group, distribute regular tweets each time a new episode was re-leased, and to point Twitter members facing online security issues to H*Commerce resources.

In October, McAfee will debut a series of special airings on a leading cable network in key markets across the country. Busselen says he plans to generate PR in these local markets, as well as continue the social media components of the campaign.

“We are trying to take many angles to raise awareness,” Busselen adds.

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