CAMPAIGNS: PR infusion helps broaden Chassis Saver's exposure

PR Team: Magnet Paints (Amityville, NY) and Power PR (Torrance, CA) Campaign: Chassis Saver car underbody treatment Time Frame: Early 2002 - present Budget: $60,000 annually

PR Team: Magnet Paints (Amityville, NY) and Power PR (Torrance, CA) Campaign: Chassis Saver car underbody treatment Time Frame: Early 2002 - present Budget: $60,000 annually

Magnet Paints wanted to gain market attention against a bigger, better-known rival in the car underbody-protection market. Magnet originally hired Power PR to handle efforts for its line of industrial-grade paints, but after six months decided the agency should concentrate on its underbody product. The company renamed that product Chassis Saver to explain what it does and to distinguish the brand from a competitor whose name had become an almost generic term for underbody protection among car professionals and auto enthusiasts. Strategy Power PR decided to emphasize the major benefits of Chassis Saver: its quality and lower cost. Chassis Saver is 30%-40% cheaper than its leading competitor, explains Jeff Elliott, a senior account manager with Power PR who worked on the campaign. "Our goal was not to get into minute formulation detail," he says. "We wanted to get Chassis Saver out to a number of markets." Besides auto restoration, the product has uses in the boating area, for example. Rather than simply trying to reach auto-body shops and car dealers, Power PR also wanted to direct PR efforts at car enthusiasts. Magnet had already run ads in a number of car-restoration magazines, but couldn't afford to reach all the titles in the various markets it wanted to break into, and thus turned to PR. Magnet hoped that a PR push would help it "get into magazines it couldn't afford to advertise in," says Elliott. Tactics Power PR assembled an extensive media list in specialties such as auto restoration, boating, truck fleet maintenance, municipal fleet maintenance, limousines, taxis, and recreational vehicles. The agency found 600 publications and websites to target, and of those, about half were in the auto and truck markets. For eight months, Power PR made calls to individual editors, pitching them on Chassis Saver before sending them releases on the product. If editors asked for the information, a release tailored to their particular industry was sent, and then Power PR followed up with another call. "The inherent value of Chassis Saver is more obvious with cars and trucks, but when we got outside that realm, it was necessary to emphasize how and where a rust-prevention paint might be used," Elliott says. "To a marine publication, saying 'Chassis Saver' doesn't translate. You still have to explain it." The agency also sought out websites for such groups as auto clubs and antique-car restoration enthusiasts. "With this particular group of people, there is quite a bit of online interest," Elliott explains. Satisfied customers were found and case studies detailing what they had done and how they felt about Chassis Saver were offered to the media. When Magnet announced an upgrade to the product in February 2003, PR efforts shifted to gaining media attention for the new version of Chassis Saver. Results About 150 publications ran information about Chassis Saver. Seeing which publications' stories produced the greatest consumer response has helped Magnet better target which outlets to use for follow-on ads. Phone orders for the product also increased, reaching 30 calls an hour at one point. Sales rose 100% in the first year of the campaign, and 200% in the next six months. Website traffic reached 10,000 unique visitors a month. Distributors also began calling Magnet about Chassis Saver. The company picked up 100 new distributors as a result of the heightened consumer demand that was generated by the campaign. Future Power PR will continue media outreach for Chassis Saver, focusing on broadcast auto shows and newspaper auto sections. It will also target distributors. Early PR efforts were aimed at consumers because "you've got to create the consumer interest first so you can develop distribution channels," says Elliott.

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