iPod speakers carve a niche in crowded arena

Monitor Audio, one of the world’s largest loudspeaker companies, is known as a design-led hi-fi specialist. It identified a gap in the cluttered iPod accessories sector for a premium-quality speaker system – the i-deck.


Campaign Launch of i-deck stereo speakers for the iPod
Client Monitor Audio
PR team Wildwood PR
Timescale July 2005-March 2006
Budget Under £30,000

It wanted to present the product to its core market of 20 to 35-year-old men, as well as a wider target of 16 to 45-year-old men and women.

Objectives
To exploit the fact that 70 per cent of iPod owners buy two or more accessories. To convince mainstream electrical retailers that the i-deck is more than just a gadget – that it is a high-spec speaker alternative. To communicate the product's benefits, and gain access to broadcast media unobtainable by the limited ad budget.

Strategy and Plan
Wildwood decided on a two-phase launch with tailored press releases and a celebrity seeding programme to gain credibility for the i-deck brand. There were two targets: technophiles, who would be receptive to product reviews; and a more mainstream audience, which would need to understand the lifestyle benefits of the speakers. Wildwood also positioned i-deck as ideal for student residences and as wedding gifts.

Celebrities were sent a free system in return for their endorsement. These included Jonathan Ross, Jools Holland and Sir Terence Conran. Such backing also helped to reach specific targets – Graham Norton was pictured in gay media using an i-deck, for instance.

One of the most significant link-ups was with West Ham United, east
London-based Monitor Audio's local Premiership club. Wildwood's angle was how music is a vital element of any professional football team's pre-match preparations. Journalists were offered lists of the songs players listen to in order to motivate themselves before matches. Hospitality was also organised for journalists at West Ham's home games.

Around Christmas and Valentine's Day, Wildwood conducted surveys to find the best and worst festive and romantic songs.

Measurement and Evaluation
By March, 149 items of editorial had been generated, including pieces on Sky News and Five's The Gadget Show, and in News of the World, The Times, Daily Mirror, The Independent Magazine, Esquire, GQ and Nuts.

The highlight was a full-page feature in Bliss for Brides and coverage in Traditional Homes and Interiors. The system also received a Product of the Year award from What Hi-Fi? and a five-star rating from Macworld.

The International Press Cuttings Bureau found that 77 per cent of reports conveyed the campaign's messages. 

Results
Monitor Audio secured distribution for i-deck in mainstream retailers Comet, Dixons, Selfridges and John Lewis, among others. The West Ham sports link has now been extended to include Essex County Cricket Club.

Freelance technology writer Chris Price, who covered the story for The Guardian, Daily Mirror and GQ, says: 'I can be quite cynical about the iPod accessories market because there are hundreds of launches. But Wildwood sent me an i-deck after one phone call and set up an interview with a spokesman at Monitor Audio to answer some technical questions.'

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