Client: Sony AIBO
PR Team: Phipps PR
Campaign: UK launch of second generation Sony AIBO robot
Timescale: September 2000 - June 2001
After the launch of the first limited edition AIBO robot in 1998, Sony's
second-generation electronic dog was a tough act to follow in PR
The robot costs just over £1,000 and is available only from
www.aibo.com. As an 'old' news story it was in danger of being relegated
to 'news-in-brief' spots in the press.
To position AIBO as the must-have tech toy for men aged 25 to
45-years-old. To cement Sony's reputation as an innovator.
Strategy and Plan
Phipps used what it terms an 'immersion process' to position the AIBO as
a 'celebrity in its own right' while maintaining the technology
Account manager Caroline Nelson became a personal publicist for AIBO,
pinpointing The Guardian, PC World, T3, Wallpaper* and Tomorrow's World
as priority media after an audit disclosed they each held the highest
conversion rate from coverage to sales in their field.
All were offered exclusives and interviews with Sony Entertainment Robot
Company president, Satoshi Amagai.
On release, Phipps sold in alternative story angles calling AIBO a
fashion accessory (Red magazine), the gadget of the future (Maxim), and
the ultimate in pet accessories for its ability to bypass no-dog
policies (The Independent).
Phipps' photocall lured journalists to the London Eye with the promise
of a spectacular, new innovation from Sony and the first-time appearance
of a certain 'someone' in Europe.
A detailed 'celebrity' tour was also planned in which AIBO accompanied
journalists on a London bus tour demonstrating features such as its
'digital eye', which takes photographs. Phipps balanced this with
one-to-one interviews with technology correspondents from The Times and
FT, and with website journalists.
The tour culminated with the MTV Awards where AIBO appeared among stars
such as U2's Bono and Kylie Minogue cementing its celebrity status. A
million people saw live images from the event broadcast on MTVi. No
money changed hands between MTV and Phipps.
Finally, the celebrity tour took AIBO to chat shows such as So Graham
Norton and The Big Breakfast. And through Phipps' client Columbia
Tristar, AIBO amanaged to wangle invites to film premieres, fashion
launches and restaurant openings.
Measurement and Evaluation
According to Sony's internal evaluation coverage, AIBO has resulted in
50 million consumer impressions in the UK alone.
Five front covers on priority targets were gained, plus ten illustrated
features in targeted press, 80 minutes of national TV coverage and 26
website features. Order targets have been exceeded by 150 per cent.
Only slightly less media hungry than Geri Halliwell, AIBO is arguably
the most famous robot dog since K-9 - this has meant glowing sales
But in terms of technological innovation, consumers investing in AIBO
don't only get a cute executive toy but a piece of AI with the brain of
your average PC; a core message that does not seem to have been dampened
by its new-found celebrity status.
Phipps PR's campaign won Nelson the PRCA Frontline best media relations