CAMPAIGNS: Kozmo moves beyond Manhattan - Web Launch

Client: (New York)

Client: (New York)

Client: (New York)

PR Team: RLM Public Relations (New York)

Campaign: ’Operation’

Time Frame: June 1999 to January 2000

Budget: dollars 300,000 (including travel)

New York-based, launched in 1997 by 20-something former

investment banker Joseph Park, offers urbanites one-hour (or quicker)

delivery of entertainment amenities, such as movies, books, CDs and


Staffed by a fleet of bike messengers deployed from a centralized

warehouse, Kozmo initially operated only in Manhattan, limiting the

company’s potential for national exposure. That, along with an unproven

business model and its status as a privately held company, prevented

Kozmo from attracting attention from the top-tier financial press.

But national mainstream coverage was crucial to fuel the company’s

expansion and attract investors. Once Kozmo was set to launch its

service in new markets like Seattle and San Francisco, it needed to get

the word out to consumers. To do so, Kozmo hired small New York Internet

boutique RLM Public Relations in June 1999.


RLM executives decided that gimmicks should be avoided in favor of a

straight numbers- and logistics-oriented pitch. The strategy was to

concentrate on how the benefits of Kozmo’s service match the societal

’cocooning’ trend and the increasing demand for convenience. RLM also

emphasized the advantages of Kozmo’s ’ownership’ model - the company

keeps its own warehouse, products and messengers, rather than

outsourcing to other service providers.

When introducing Kozmo in new cities, the strategy shifted to a consumer

focus, stressing the end-user benefits of comfort and convenience.


RLM believed that even skeptical reporters would realize the feasibility

of Kozmo’s business model if they could see orders and deliveries in


The agency invited journalists from top business pubs such as Forbes and

Investor’s Business Daily to accompany CEO Joseph Park on delivery runs

and to visit the warehouse to observe the infrastructure close up.

Additionally, RLM capitalized on its relationship with Flatiron

Partners, a top New York VC firm (and fellow RLM client), by hosting a

luncheon for top-tier business press featuring ’five great new companies

in pervasive computing.’ At the press conference, when it was Park’s

turn at the podium, he quizzed every audience member on his or her

favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor, punching in the order on his laptop.

Within an hour, attendees got a pint of their beloved ice cream - a

crowd-pleasing stunt that generated several business features.

When Kozmo hit Seattle and San Francisco, RLM literally blanketed the

local press with one-page ’media alerts,’ inviting reporters to test the

service for themselves. ’We knew it worked, so we felt comfortable

letting others challenge the service,’ says RLM senior account executive

Michael Prichinello.


RLM’s campaign generated coverage for Kozmo in just about every key

business, consumer and mainstream broadcast media outlet open to

pitches. More impressive than the 37-pound clip book, however, was the

caliber of the placements.

Kozmo scored full profiles in Forbes, Industry Standard, Red Herring and

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and was featured on CNN at least 10 times

in six months. It was named one of Business Week’s ’Best Products of

1999’ and one of The Wall Street Journal’s ’Best Ideas for Christmas.’

CEO Park was included in Time magazine’s list of ’Innovators of the

Year’ and made the cover of New York magazine as one of the

publication’s ’New Yorkers of 1999.’

The flurry of media attention also acted as a magnet for investors, with

Kozmo landing more than dollars 28 million in first-round funding from a

collection of New York VC firms this October. The company has also

seemingly scored attention from mega-marketers like Starbucks, with

which it recently inked a co-marketing alliance.


As Kozmo continues to grow - expansion is progressing at the rate of

about two cities per month - both domestically and eventually overseas,

the company will continue its city-by-city media relations. On the

business side, the strategy will shift to less of a Joseph Park and

Web-on-a-bike strategy to more on the new suite of corporate managers

who have recently signed on to steer Kozmo into the future. Recently,

the company shifted its account from RLM to Edelman Worldwide, which has

the international resources to handle the company’s growing needs.

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