Client: Rhode Island Economic Development Corp. (Providence, RI)
Client: Rhode Island Economic Development Corp. (Providence,
PR Team: Duffy & Shanley (Providence, RI)
Time Frame: July to September 1999
Budget: dollars 100,000
In an effort to attract hi-tech businesses from neighboring
Massachusetts, the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC)
needed to launch an aggressive campaign to convince businesses to
relocate to the state.
The RIEDC, a semi-private state agency, provides access to Rhode
Island’s economic development services and works to attract new business
and investment to the state.
Rhode Island recently invested significantly in developing a
leading-edge technology infrastructure to meet the demands of the
advanced telecommunications industry. The state has also enacted a
series of specialized tax incentives for software firms, such as the
elimination of capital gains taxes on initial public offerings.
To reach and entice companies in neighboring states, the RIEDC used
hi-tech to target potential businesses.
’The Web-centric campaign was built around a techno-forward Web site
targeted to where people in the tech industry work,’ says Jon Duffy of
Duffy & Shanley, the RIEDC’s agency of record.
The target audience was defined as Massachusetts technology
entrepreneurs, small-business executives and recent college graduates.
Focus group research indicated the audience was skeptical of the
opportunities in Rhode Island.
Duffy & Shanley decided the campaign had to relay its message in a quick
and meaningful way while making sure to maintain follow-up communication
with interested individuals.
The agency designed a communications campaign centered around the Web
Promotional materials featured only the URL and an ambiguous but
compelling tag line. The agency planned to brand the campaign without
revealing its purpose, by stimulating curiosity and interest to drive
visitors to the site. Marketing Rhode Island as a tech-savvy business
enabler, the campaign focused on three key points carried throughout all
communications: quality of life, readily available technical expertise,
and financial assistance and tax incentives.
A billboard on the Southeast Expressway in Massachusetts initiated the
stealth communications campaign: ’mass-exodus.com, This is your exit.’
Banner ads appeared on popular Web sites. Print ads teased readers from
the pages of targeted publications, giving away only the URL and one
additional line: ’Twice the house for the money,’ ’Half the commute
time’ or ’Office space for less.’
Using Flash technology, the Web site combines interactivity and
multimedia to provide innovative elements that appeal to the target
’There is life outside of the office, you know,’ the copy states.
’Unlike your parents, we actually understand what you do,’ says another
Viral marketing activities were launched in the target areas. Members of
the PR team wearing T-shirts with ’mass-exodus.com’ emblazoned across
the front handed out mass-exodus.com temporary tattoos to commuters and
lunch crowds, posted handbills in prominent locations and delivered
beverage coasters to targeted Cambridge- and Boston-area restaurants,
coffee houses and bars.
Three Massachusetts businesses have already relocated to Rhode Island as
a result of the campaign: Sailfirst.com, Mirror Image and Bx.com.
The effects of the viral marketing efforts were documented through
significant spikes in Web site visits during the three peak periods of
viral activity (morning inbound commute, lunch time, afternoon outbound
commute). The majority of hits to the Web site came from mit.edu and
harvard.edu, indicating the target audience was successfully being
There were 19,006 unique visitors to mass-exodus.com during the campaign
period between July and September, and the RIEDC received four times as
many qualified leads requesting information about starting or relocating
a business than before the campaign.
Over 35 print and online media articles were generated, including
coverage by The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press.
Two more companies have announced plans to move their businesses to
Rhode Island in the coming year as a result of their initial contact
with the state through mass-exodus.com. The RIEDC has also authorized a
second wave for spring 2000. Duffy plans to run a second round of the
campaign with similar efforts as the first - but can now point to the
new firms that have moved in as examples.