CAMPAIGNS: Danger rewarded for handing Hiptop story to the media

PR Team: Danger (Palo Alto, CA) and Fleishman-Hillard (San Francisco) Campaign: Danger's Hiptop review push Time Frame: September - December 2002 Budget: $60,000

PR Team: Danger (Palo Alto, CA) and Fleishman-Hillard (San Francisco) Campaign: Danger's Hiptop review push Time Frame: September - December 2002 Budget: $60,000

Danger had spent a year talking about its Hiptop, a new wireless device equipped with a mobile phone, web browsing, e-mail, instant messaging, gaming, digital photography, and an address book. The problem was that the all-in-one device wasn't on the market yet. Danger had whetted the media's appetite, but the meal was a ways off. Almost two months before the product came out late last year, Danger announced the pricing plan. And about a month before the launch, The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg wrote the first review, including all product information and pricing. So the company was faced with a product launch with no new news to back it up. The company had spent a year hyping the product, leaving hi-tech journalists very little to report on when it actually became available. "There was no potential for news coverage because Danger felt the news had already been covered," says Fleishman SVP Nancy Morrison. Strategy "We were very resource-constrained," says Susan Moseley, Danger's marketing communications director. "We didn't have a lot of money. We didn't consider more expensive things like promotions or ads. We believed in the power the product had once you got it into your hands. We had to use what we had, which is the Hiptop. People are always excited about something cool, new, and different." So Danger and Fleishman decided, after letting the company talk to the press for the past year, to let the Hiptop speak for itself. Tactics The first wave of Hiptops went to tech editors and writers at publications such as BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, The New York Times, and CNET. "These were important people for us to reach," says Morrison. "They have important reputations that influence others, and their articles often get picked up in other publications. The word was out about the product. People knew the pricing. They knew T-Mobile was the carrier. So the only incentive for them to write something new was to talk about their experience with it." "There had been a lot of build-up about the product prior to its launch, so we felt like these tech writers had high expectations," adds Moseley. "We wanted them to have the first word. And the product fulfilled the promises we made. Putting it in their hands was the best way to positively influence their view of the product. But Fleishman and Danger didn't stop with the Walt Mossbergs and Stephen Wildstroms of the world. They hit gift guides and lifestyle publications, and also put the Hiptop into the hands of fashion editors during Fashion Week in New York. Results The product-review onslaught generated 1.7 billion media impressions in the last four months of 2002. Coverage was gained in newspapers such as USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and the San Jose Mercury News; on websites like ZDNet and CNET; in business magazines such as BusinessWeek, Forbes, and Fortune; in consumer and news titles like Newsweek, Parade, and Jane; on TV networks like CNN, CNBC, and MSNBC; and on NPR. The overwhelming publicity led to sales that exceeded Danger's expectations (although the company will not release exact sales figures). The publicity also led Danger to sign Triton PCS as another US carrier, and to begin discussions with carriers in Europe. Danger also secured a new round of venture financing - an impressive feat at a time when most venture capital firms are holding onto their money. Future Fleishman and Danger will keep sending Hiptops to editors and writers at various news outlets, from hi-tech to fashion. "A lot of people are still discovering the Hiptop," says Morrison. "We'll do this again when the next generation is available, and when we come out with the color screen."

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