CAMPAIGNS: Consumer PR - B-M unveils Segway for media in NYC

Client: Segway

PR Team: Burson-Marsteller New York and Segway in-house

Campaign: Launch of the Segway human transporter

Timescale: Ongoing

Budget: Undisclosed

For almost a year there had been speculation in the US and the UK about

a radical new transport device. Known as 'Project Ginger', speculation

about its design included rumours that the devices could even be

personal jet packs.

The developers were worried about the launch becoming an


To neutralise this risk, it was decided to unveil the device a year

before it would hit the shops.


Segway held a pre-launch annoucement for its product - a motorised


This was not a launch, but an attempt to dispel rumours and generate

interest in the corporate market where testing is about to take


Strategy and Plan

The media strategy was to use three prestigious outlets - each with a

different purpose. The New York Times, to showcase the product's

commercial applications; Time magazine to do justice to the impact the

developers think the product will have on the world; and ABC TV's Good

Morning America, which allowed viewers to see it in action.

At 11am the same morning a photo opportunity was held that was attended

by 60 print and TV representatives.

Measurement and Evaluation

The product had more than 30 minutes on ABC TV, the front page in the

NYT business section and seven pages in Time.

The product was denied the prestigious front cover of Time at the last

minute by the death of George Harrison.


Perhaps a greater impact on sales could have been achieved by waiting

until the Segway was in the shops before unveiling it, but the company

insists corporate orders for testing are strong and that the product

will sell itself when it reaches to the shops.

However, most UK press reports linked Segway to the failed Sinclair C5,

with some coverage questioning whether the idea would be successful or

sink without a trace.

In addition, the PR team could be said to have failed in its attempt to

circumnavigate any possible anti-climax as even its inventor, Dean

Kamen, admitted the revealing of the product could leave people asking:

'Is that it?'.

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