CAMPAIGNS: Media Relations - Online sperm bank boosts donor figures

Client: ManNotIncluded.com PR Team: Gillan Media Campaign: Website's first anniversary Timescale: Late June 2003 Budget: £5,000

ManNotIncluded.com, an internet-based sperm bank founded by John Gonzalez, celebrated its one-year anniversary with the launch of a weekend-long media relations campaign centred around a lesbian couple's conception.

Although 16 couples have conceived using the cyber sperm, only one was willing to talk about the experience, Jaime Saphier and Sarah Watkinson from Liverpool.

Objectives

To raise the profile of ManNotIncluded.com among the general public as well as lesbian couples. To increase the number of sperm donors.

Strategy and Plan

The campaign's success hinged on widespread national newspaper and broadcast coverage.

The Evening Standard was targeted to break the controversial story and essentially served as a newswire, with the story picked up by a slew of national and regional newspapers. The story was then distributed on the Press Association newswire.

The couple were taken to a secret location to minimise the intrusion on their personal lives. A series of telephone interviews with Saphier, who is carrying the baby, was arranged.

The final stage of the campaign was an exclusive personal interview in the Daily Mail.

After the initial campaign, the story was presented to gay and lesbian media.

Measurement and Evaluation

Following the initial story in the Evening Standard, full-page coverage was obtained in The Sun, the Daily Express, the Daily Star, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Mail and The Times. The story also appeared on the front page of three regional titles: the Liverpool Daily News, the Liverpool Daily Post and the Liverpool Echo.

ManNotIncluded.com also announced plans to launch in Spain and Germany, which garnered interest from media in those countries.

Results

At the end of the first working day following the news coverage, more than 900 new men registered to donate sperm and over 180 women registered to receive sperm donations.

Press Association reporter Caroline Gammell said the story's take-up was high: 'Most people seemed to register interest because it was controversial. The subject used to be taboo, but not so anymore.'

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