Client: IHateFinancialPlanning.com, developed by ING/ReliaStar Financial
PR Team: Carmichael Lynch Spong (Minneapolis)
Campaign: Aaarrgghhh!!! Media Relations Campaign Drives Traffic to
Time Frame: April 15, 2000 - ongoing
Budget: dollars 490,000
Who hates financial planning? Everybody, except maybe the rich.
Financial services company ING/ReliaStar wanted to reach everybody with
an integrated marketing campaign centered around a Web site
"Seventy-five percent of Americans dislike or avoid financial planning,"
explains Laurie Zenner, partner at Carmichael Lynch Spong, which handled
PR for the campaign.
ING used humor to bring the site the kind of profile enjoyed by
Schwab.com and Quicken. com. The Web site motif is a guy screaming, and
that irreverence ripples throughout the site and the campaign.
"There are 13,000 financial planning sites," Zenner says. "ING thought
if we can make the site fun, it will take a lot of the intimidation out
of financial planning for people." The idea was to acknowledge people's
feelings of confusion about the issue and use the media to draw visitors
to the site, she adds.
Zenner's group, along with the internal PR team at ING, developed a
media kit that hollered for attention. "It was a run-of-the-mill media
kit with the screaming guy on the cover," Zenner describes. "But (an
audio chip was inserted so) it screams at you when you open it. We sent
it to finance reporters who are used to getting really dull releases. We
have clips of TV anchors opening our media kit on the air."
Twelve hundred kits were mailed to beat reporters at general interest
outlets - major dailies, monthly magazines and some TV and radio
The team nixed reporters at publications such as Money magazine because
their readers are already interested in financial planning, Zenner
ING's research showed that women and gays were demographic niches worth
reaching. "Women worry about being divorced or widowed," Zenner
"Gays worry about how to set up financial plans to include a significant
other if you are unable to marry." The team placed content and links on
women's sites and online publications for gays.
Jan Holman, a financial planner, conducted a satellite media tour.
Eighteen TV and radio reporters interviewed her in New York, and she did
a number of follow-up radio spots in Minneapolis.
The team also posted a series of 20 tip-oriented news releases on the
Articles Research Association. One tip about how newlyweds should go
about comingling their finances proved evergreen, producing stories for
The Screaming Guy was turned into a cartoon for viral e-mail
The e-mail, which was linked to the site, shows the cartoon character
screaming so much that his lungs fall out and he drops dead. Fearful of
spamming, the firm's staffers sent the e-mail to 300 friends and asked
them to pass it along if they liked it.
News of Ihatefinancialplanning.com reached 145 million people through
more than 1,000 print, broadcast and online stories.
It was named Web site of the week by the NBC's Early Today show, USA
Today, CNN, and CNBC. Articles by the Associated Press and the Industry
Standard dubbed it a "leading" Web site for financial planning, placing
the site in the company of heavyweights like Schwab.com, as ING
In all, about 200 pieces were published as a result of a February AP
An April 2001 poll showed that 41% of the site's visitors heard about it
through a news article, and 20% through a friend.
The site boasts one million visitors to date; about 30% are repeats.