Client: Kozmo.com (New York)
Client: Kozmo.com (New York)
PR Team: RLM Public Relations (New York)
Campaign: ’Operation Kozmo.com’
Time Frame: June 1999 to January 2000
Budget: dollars 300,000 (including travel)
New York-based Kozmo.com, 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
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.