Vape pen flies off shelves thanks to holistic campaign

An influencer relations campaign helped drive huge demand for Zeus Thunder Vape Pen, a new smoking alternative device.

Company: TorontoVaporizer (Toronto, Canada)
Campaign: Zeus Thunder launch Duration: June - October 2014
Budget: $5,000

An influencer relations campaign helped drive huge demand for Zeus Thunder Vape Pen, a new smoking alternative device that launched last summer.

"ZeusArsenal is very popular vaporizer accessory brand in Canada that’s associated with high-quality products," explains Julie Marano, director of sales and marketing at the brand’s parent company TorontoVaporizer. "We wanted to carry that association through for Zeus Thunder, which is of much higher quality than other pen vaporizers on the market. We need to make sure consumers were aware that ZeusArsenal is making more than vaporizer accessories now and that Zeus Thunder was positioned as a premium product."

Strategy       
Product sampling with select journalists, bloggers, and other industry influencers, as well as social media giveaways and a series of videos drove awareness. 

"We gave journalists and bloggers guidance on how to use the product, but we weren’t really prescriptive about how they covered it," Marano says. "We wanted them to organically share information about their experience. We did give additional information to those who were interested in the trend, but hadn’t necessarily been exposed to vaporizers." 

Tactics
Outreach to journalists and bloggers covering electronic cigarettes, tech gadgets, and lifestyle trend topics began in June.

Marano’s team sent the pen, vaporizer accessories, and information about use and points of differentiation to those who expressed interest in sampling. The team answered product, brand, and general vaporizer-related questions in follow-up calls and emails.

A teaser video showing only the outlines of the product was released on ZeusArsenal’s YouTube channel in June. Paid online ads helped drive traffic to the teaser.

Two additional videos – a short animated launch announcement and a longer how-to video – were posted to YouTube in early July just ahead of the product ship date.

TorontoVaporizer promoted the Zeus Thunder on its retail website, blog, and branded social media channels.

Zeus Thunder pens and accessories were given away monthly between July and October to ZeusArsenal’s Facebook and Twitter fans and to TorontoVaporizer’s Facebook and Twitter fans. Anyone who commented on what they liked about Zeus Thunder or reposted, retweeted, or favorited related content was entered into random drawings. 

Results
The first production run, which the company expected to sell in three months, sold out 72 hours after it was offered pre-order in June.

"We doubled the order for a second production run, which sold out by September," Marano says. "Orders snowballed when coverage by big industry influencers including Gizmodo hit. We keep ordering more and more product, and it’s still flying off the shelves."

In addition to Gizmodo, 13 other outlets covered Zeus Thunder including Medical Jane, TrendHunter, InStash, and UberAppartus.

The teaser video got more than 100,000 views. To date, the animated short has nearly 14,000 views and the how-to video has 1,485 views.

A pre-launch June blog post got more than 400 Facebook shares and 89 comments.

"We have one of the highest viewed blogs in the industry," Marano notes. "Our posts average 20 to 30 Facebook shares and 15 to 25 comments." 

Future
Promotional efforts around the Zeus Thunder are on hold as the company is busy working on product improvements based on customer feedback. An updated product is slated to release this spring.

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