Client: Sophos Anti-Virus
Campaign: ’Loveletter’ computer virus
PR Team: Johnson King
Timescale: 4 May - ongoing
Budget: Part of retainer
On Thursday 4 May the ’I love you’ computer virus caused havoc for
computer networks across the globe. Dubbed the ’Love Bug’ it was
reported to be the fastest-spreading computer virus and is estimated to
have caused millions of pounds worth of damage to businesses, including
the closure of the MSN network.
The virus acted similarly to the Melissa virus of last year. It appeared
as an attachment on an e-mail from a friend or colleague, under the
heading ’I love you’, and once opened forwarded itself to everyone in
the user’s e-mail address book. Anti-virus company Sophos seized the
opportunity to be seen as the ’anti-virus expert’ for the duration of
To ensure that Sophos Anti-Virus spokespeople were seen by the media as
providing expert advice on the possible effects of the virus. To inform
businesses and the public that the company had devised a downloadable
’patch’ or ’cure’ for the virus.
To raise the profile of Sophos as the UK’s leading anti-virus software
provider by educating businesses and the public on steps they can take
to avoid ’infection’.
Strategy and Plan
Sophos contacted its retained agency Johnson King on the morning of 4
May. This chain-letter style of virus proliferates extremely quickly so
it was vital to act swiftly.
The agency was warned that a new virus called ’Loveletter’ had been
detected and had already caused disruption to business and personal
As a hi-tech specialist Johnson King was able to use its experience in
dealing with viruses to address the media. The agency obtained detailed
information from Sophos and targeted journalists at national newspapers,
TV and radio stations.
The story was only just breaking, so Johnson King was able to provide
the media with information on the virus and ensure that Sophos was one
of the companies quoted. The agency liaised with Sophos and set up phone
interviews with company spokespeople, including director of corporate
communications Graham Cluley.
Johnson King also arranged a phone interview with PA News. It resulted
in Sophos being the only anti-virus firm to be quoted on the newswire,
so any media that had not spoken to Johnson King were able to quote from
Measurement and Evaluation
All of the national press ran the ’Lovebug’ story and quoted Sophos
Anti-Virus as an expert in computer viruses. The message that Sophos had
developed a cure also came through. Trade magazine Computer Weekly and
regional newspapers, including the Western Mail and Scotland on Sunday,
also ran the story.
Broadcast media who ran the story included ITN, Channel Four News,
Channel Five, Radio 1 and Radio 5.
Sophos was also quoted in some international media including the Wall
Street Journal Europe, ABC - Good Morning America, ABC News and CNN
Many people reading or hearing about the ’I love you’ virus in the
national and international media would have been made aware of the
Sophos name as an anti-virus company.
Cluley was quoted extensively, being cited as ’one of the world’s
leading experts in computer viruses’ and was praised by journalists for
his simple use of language on a potentially confusing technical topic.