Client: J2 Communications (Los Angeles)
Client: J2 Communications (Los Angeles)
PR Team: Faiola Davis Public Relations (Los Angeles)
Campaign:: Launch of National Lampoon.com
Time Frame: September to October 1999
Budget: Under dollars 10,000
Never underestimate the power of a good story. That’s what Faiola Davis
Public Relations proved in using PR exclusively to promote the launch of
National Lampoon. com on October 25.
Los Angeles-based J2 Communications bought National Lampoon in 1990 but
stopped publishing the magazine after November 1998 - it felt a web site
was a more viable option.
The PR firm was only given a month and a modest budget to drive traffic
to the satiric humor site. But Faiola Davis, which has a number of
dot-com clients, is familiar with tiny lead times because sites often
fall behind schedule. ’Driving visitors to the site on the 25th wasn’t
important,’ senior account executive Eric Lindborn explains. ’What was
important is that when they visited the site looked good and they kept
Time and money weren’t the only obstacles. The Web presence remains true
to the irreverent Lampoon style. Only reporters who would be sympathetic
to that humor - for example, a Gunville High feature that satirizes
school shootings - would be targeted.
A big plus, however, was National Lampoon’s established reputation.
’This was invaluable,’ remarks Faiola Davis partner Heidi Davis. ’Part
of the strategy was going to reporters to whom the brand would mean
Davis and Lindborn handled the short lead time by narrowly targeting
their contacts, seeking out high-profile media coverage to create a buzz
that eventually would be audible to smaller outlets.
Two weeks before launch, Lindborn’s group telephoned select journalists
- entertainment and Web reporters at Newsweek, USA Today, Entertainment
Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, LA Weekly and Rolling
The PR pros played up the brand, reminding reporters that the magazine
was at the cutting-edge during much of its tenure, stretching back to
1970. The original cast of Saturday Night Live had cut its teeth on the
National Lampoon Radio Hour and the original company had put out the
films Animal House and Vacation. They also told reporters that
characters and scenarios developed online will be promoted as TV
programs and films.
Jim Jimirro, J2 Communications’s chairman and CEO, and Scott Rubin, its
content editor and a former writer for David Letterman, gave interviews
and led reporters on a sneak peak of the yet-to-be-completed site.
Faiola Davis followed up with press kits. In a secondary offensive a
week before launch, the agency mailed 180 press releases to the top 30
daily newspapers, TV and radio networks, the major entertainment and
Internet publications and the AP.
Newsweek responded in its October 25 issue with a blurb in its
Cyberscope department. The day before, a local ABC radio affiliate in
Los Angeles broadcast an interview with Jimirro. Stories followed in PC
World Online, Playboy.com, USA Today (25 inches by its hi-tech reporter
along with a visual) and Entertainment Weekly, which did a full-page
review but gave the site only a ’C’ because the writer didn’t like some
of the content. Los Angeles-based Sitrick & Associates, which handles
the company’s IR, brought in a mention in the Los Angeles Times business
Within two days of the launch, the site had 250,000 visitors, while
around 1.5 million accumulated the first week. In a synchronistic bit of
luck, after shock-jock Howard Stern received a letter complaining about
the site, he talked about it on his November 10 show, mentioning the URL
(www.nationallampoon. com) twice.
’We’re very happy,’ Jimirro says. ’We had a great brand name. They had a
lot to work with and they maximized the coverage that they got.’
MTV Online and Spin magazine online have promised stories. Meanwhile,
the agency is preparing B-roll footage with animation from the site and
is following up with Web reviewers to view the online presence
The firm will continue to be selective, Davis says, while at the same
time aiming for wider coverage.