PR Team: Burson-Marsteller New York and Segway in-house
Campaign: Launch of the Segway human transporter
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?'.