Client: CityBug UK
PR Team: Image Wizard PR
Campaign: UK launch and promotion of the Micro Skate Scooter
Timescale: October 1999 - ongoing
'It was one of those strange feelings where the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, and you know you're onto something big,' says Nick Joslin, co-founder of the innovative transport devices company CityBug UK, on discovering the Micro Skate Scooter.
Despite reticence on the part of retailers, who deemed the product a non-starter, CityBug hired Image Wizard to launch the new Micro and handle ongoing PR.
It was the first in a series of shiny, mini aluminium skate scooters to hit the streets of the UK.
To position the Micro Skate Scooter as a cult accessory amongst adults and teenagers. To cement its position as a means of alternative transport. To make the Micro Skate Scooter the 'must-have' for Christmas 2000.
Strategy and Plan
In line with CityBug's sales strategy of initially targeting trend-setting retail outlets, such as Conrad and Skate shops, Image Wizard developed a two-phase cult campaign.
Together with product information, Micros were sent to key style media including The Face, Dazed and Confused and Time Out, generating a buzz among image-conscious readers and letting the news trickle through to the core target market - young adults and teens.
The second phase rolled out six weeks later. It focused on getting coverage in more general media, men's magazines, teen publications and on television, positioning the Micro as a cool, 'ruck-sack ready' accessory for the urban guy or girl
Crisis management provided by Image Wizard in the summer of 2000 followed the death of a boy who had been riding another brand of skate scooter.
It included the publication of a code of conduct outlining safety do's and don'ts, guidelines on what to wear, and age recommendations, helping to combat any sales backlash. At the end of the summer sales peaked.
Meanwhile, the fuel crisis in September 2000 presented an opportunity to further promote the Micro as an alternative means of transport.
Image Wizard also began targeting women's publications. This included issuing press releases on 'Micro-fitness' which contained calorie counters and exercise techniques to ensure that muscles in one leg do not get bigger than the other.
In a final push up to Christmas, CityBug hosted the first national Micro Championship in Bournemouth.
Measurement and Evaluation
Most national newspapers, nearly all the men's magazines and many of the style publications covered the Micro.
There has been extensive coverage on children's broadcast media like Nickelodeon and programmes Diggit and The Core, plus glimpses of the zippy roadster at the Edinburgh Theatre Festival and Glasgow's Party in the Park.
Several magazines - Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, Women's Health and Slimmer - picked up on the Micro-fitness story.
The Micro Championships attracted over 2,000 people and gained coverage on BBC TV South and Meridian local radio, among others.
The scooter appeared frequently in national newspapers' 'must have' Christmas lists and the Telegraph Magazine gave it a full page in an 'objects of desire of the year' feature.
With Christmas sales peaking at 25,000 units a week, compared to between five and 10 at the start, and a gaggle of high profile fans (including Robbie Williams, Kylie Minogue, Paul Smith, Gail Porter and Prince Harry) the campaign has been hugely successful.
Far from being a fad, the Micro-trend shows no signs of slowing down, and CityBug will be launching a new range of products and accessories at the forthcoming toy fair, held at ExCeL in east London's Docklands (27 to 31 January).
As the darling of print and broadcast media for much of the year, the Micro has also gained the supreme position of becoming the generic term for all skate scooters.