Campaign: Cow creates cyber cafe awards for Yahoo! Mail - Consumer PR

Campaign: Yahoo! Mail Internet Cafe Awards

Client: Yahoo! Mail PR team Cow PR

Timescale: April 2004-February 2005

Budget: Less than £50,000

In late 2003, free web-based email provider Yahoo! Mail asked Cow PR to develop a campaign to attract young, urban customers, particularly students. The challenges were the competitive email market, and the difficulty of convincing people to change their email provider. Objectives

To increase registrations for Yahoo! Mail via international media coverage.

Strategy and Plan

The primary audience were young people going abroad on holiday or for a gap year. The secondary target was all other email users.

Cow commissioned research that would show how the travelling 'iPod generation' sought constant contact with home through email, often using internet cafes. The results were sent to niche travel publications and features editors of national media.

Further research into internet cafes discovered that the first - Cafe Cyberia - was opened in London in 1994. The team came up with the creative hook of getting travellers to nominate the world's best places to surf the net.

It announced the winners of the Internet Cafe Awards on 1 September 2004 - the tenth anniversary of the first internet cafe.

Digital agency Poke London developed a microsite with details of how to nominate cafes for the awards.

Student and youth travel specialist STA Travel put 80,000 entry forms in ticket wallets during April and May, while Yahoo! Mail-branded surfboards were placed in 65 STA Travel shops across the country.

Publisher Rough Guides helped to produce the first Yahoo! Mail e-book, which showcased the world's best internet cafes. Eva Pascoe, the Polish co-founder of Cafe Cyberia, was a spokesperson and award judge.

A list of the winning cafes - from the US and UK to Russia and Peru - was issued to journalists, and a B-roll was produced with footage of the first internet cafe, the award winners and interviews with Pascoe and Yahoo!'s director of mail.

Measurement and Evaluation

The 'iPod generation' story was covered in The Guardian, The Times, The Daily Telegraph the Daily Express. The B-roll footage was distributed to TV stations around the world.

The announcement of the winning internet cafes was covered by The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Observer and The Guardian. Broadcast coverage appeared on the BBC and Sky News.

A feature in the International Herald Tribune was reproduced in the New York Times, among other US newspapers.

Overall, coverage appeared in 27 countries. Yahoo! Mail was mentioned an average of three times in each item, and there were more than 70 million opportunities to see in the UK alone. More than 1,000 award entries from 111 countries and territories were submitted.

Results

More than 35,000 users have signed up to Yahoo! Mail since the campaign. The e-book was downloaded approximately 35,000 times.

Daily Telegraph science correspondent Nic Fleming says: 'At first, this looked like yet another of the PR-inspired competitions that clog up our inboxes. However, readers are particularly interested in technology trends, and the anniversary of the first internet cafe was newsworthy.'

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