Product Launch: Tech nearly kills sensitive mouse

Client: Logitech (Fremont, CA)

Client: Logitech (Fremont, CA)

Client: Logitech (Fremont, CA)

PR Team: Phase Two Strategies (San Francisco,CA)

Campaign: iFeel Launch

Time Frame: August 21-September 2000

Budget: About dollars 75,000

Phase Two Strategies account director Robert Nash had a campaign planned for the early September launch of Logitech's sexy new iFeel computer mouse, which allows users to feel the glide of the paper as they open a file, the weight of a desktop folder or the vibration of a car at an auto Web site. It is the first of its kind for mainstream consumers.

Top-tier reporters would be offered exclusives, and secondary media coverage would be sought once the product hit stores.

But when pitching the story to Newsweek, Nash discovered that the magazine was already preparing a story about TouchSense technology, which is what makes the mouse revolutionary, based on information received by Immersion Corporation, the technology's creator. Immersion had extended Logitech an exclusive one-year license to market the technology through the iFeel mouse, but Logitech had no idea Immersion was already on a media tour.

Suddenly, Logitech's PR team had a crisis. Coverage touting the technology would surely dim, or even destroy, its planned campaign.


Betty Skov, director of worldwide PR for Logitech decided this wasn't two stories. 'There was one big story.' So the team decided to enhance Immersion's story by showing the practical uses of TouchSense through the iFeel mouse.

There was no time for exclusives. All 200 journalists on Phase Two's media list were contacted. Though some trade writers were included, the firm mostly hit consumer journalists at top dailies, major weeklies and broadcast outlets. The new strategy was: 'Push a whole lot of information through a pipe as fast as possible in order to avoid missing a very important window of opportunity,' Nash says.

Since the PR team had planned well in advance, the message was ready.


Phase Two's finely segmented database helped target the right journalists fast, blitzing them by phone and e-mail. Skov drove home the 'feel' idea by overnighting a press kit with a tactile cover. The team pitched the story as breaking news. Interested reporters received a demo mouse the next day. Describing the way the story spread as 'viral', Skov attributes the spread to the fact that reporters actually used the mouse.

Logitech's top execs held a bi-coastal press tour the week of August 21, further fanning excitement. To deal with the barrage of calls, Phase Two added executives to the campaign full time, while Skov readied Logitech's entire staff - from sales managers to quality assurance personnel - in the event they needed an extra spokesperson.

When CNN Financial News wanted an interview and top-level executives were busy, a product manager with no TV experience had to be quickly trained up. Nash borrowed a videoconferencing center from another client and secured a favor from a media trainer he knew. Using three-way conferencing, the trainer, Nash and the product manager - each in a different city - embarked on an intense two-day training session.


Dozens of media hits resulted, including broadcast coverage from ABC World News Tonight, CNNfn, Bloomberg TV and radio, and CNET radio. Stories appeared in The New York Times and Newsweek. An AP pick-up reaped 20 daily newspaper articles from major dailies, and a USA Today piece spawned stories in several other Gannett-owned papers.

Most of the coverage mentioned both Logitech and Immersion. Exact sales figures were unavailable. But according to David Yaskulka, director of marketing at Phase Two, Logitech expressed enthusiasm about increased sales.


The story is still cooking, with Time magazine and Rolling Stone pieces in the offing. Logitech is preparing a VNR promoting the mouse for the holidays.

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