Theglobe.com was about to launch a product offering voiceover internet protocol (VoIP) phone service, a way for people to use their computers and the internet to make local and long distance calls. "We were charged by our chairman and CEO to get the launch of our product in front of as many people as possible," says Doug Brisotti, VP of interactive marketing.The audience for the new service, called Voiceglo, was expected to be young internet users and other individuals who routinely make international calls. With Valentine's Day - and its high call volume - approaching, Theglobe.com brought Peppercom on board to create an event that would capture consumer and media attention.
Peppercom's promotions unit began looking for locations that could be used for Valentine's Day-related calling events in key markets. The events would be designed to collect consumer contact information for future marketing efforts, introduce the new technology to the public, and sign up new customers while also generating publicity, even outside the cities where events would be held. The agency team asked itself, "How are we going to get someone in Nebraska interested in this story?" says Ann Barlow, a partner and senior director at Peppercom.
Peppercom and its promotions unit decided to create events in New York, LA, and Miami that would allow consumers to use the Voiceglo service for free. Rather than trying to equip sites with internet-accessible computers, the agency decided to hold its call-ins at internet caf?s because they have the necessary equipment already in place and were likely to attract the tech-savvy audience most likely to try VoIP technology.
The primary target audiences for the events would be consumers ages 13 to 30 and people making international calls, Barlow says. Peppercom involved 17 staffers from its New York and San Francisco offices in the campaign. The agency ordered 5,000 red, silk roses and hired models to dress as cupids, dispensing the roses with an invitation to visit the caf?s and try the Voiceglo service to call a loved one. The first event was held in Miami on February 12 at an internet caf? near Florida International University, a prime location to attract students and international callers.
On February 13, roses and informational fliers were handed out to the crowd outside the Today show in New York, and people wearing Voiceglo "Free Love" T-shirts were interviewed on the show about what they were doing. The Los Angeles event was also held that day.
People trying the Voiceglo service were asked to enter a contest for a trip to Jamaica and other prizes, so e-mail addresses were collected from them for future marketing efforts.
To attract media, Peppercom commissioned a Valentine's Day-related survey asking people about long-distance relationships and the problems they bring. It also found an expert on long-distance love to comment to the media about the survey. An audio news release, an MAT release, and aggressive media pitching to consumer and technology publications were used to attract media attention to the survey, which interviewed 1,000 people in early February.
Voiceglo signed up thousands of new customers and received widespread media coverage. The audio news release was heard by more than 9 million listeners around the country. Traffic to the website increased by 70,000 a day after the campaign's launch.
The agency is discussing the possibility of another event tied to Mother's Day in May, as well as one to benefit the families of those in the military who are stationed overseas. In addition, Peppercom continues to explore ways to reach the college market, says Barlow. "We like event-based PR," says Brisotti. "We will see where it goes next."
PR team: Peppercom (New York)
Campaign: Voiceglo Valentine's Day Free Love Promotion
Time frame: January 26 to February 13