In recent years, the compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) has become synonymous with all things environmentally conscious. This generalization can also be a curse because concerns that plagued early versions of the bulb become similarly associated with the product.
When it came time for lighting supplier Osram Sylvania to launch its new micro-mini Twist, the world's smallest CFL, it enlisted the help of Weber Shandwick's global strategic media group to make sure its specific benefits weren't lost in the shuffle.
The campaign started off with a goal in sight – Sylvania was the sponsor of LIGHTCongress, the annual symposium that brings together thought leaders and experts in lighting and lighting design, which coincided with Earth Day.
The team thought it would be a strong launch pad for its announcement to provide direct access to influential trade and business media, and, if played correctly, coverage could also reach consumers.
“We wanted to raise awareness about the fact that not all CFLs are created equal, and Sylvania is a leader... in lighting,” says Stephanie Anderson, corporate communications manager for Osram.
The team began its multifaceted launch prior to LIGHTCongress. It sent Sylvania CEO Charlie Jerabek on a media road show, which helped the story gain credibility in the eyes of top-tier and business media, a move that ultimately garnered a USA Today story featuring the Twist.
It also coordinated its inclusion in an in-market ground tour titled “Products That Help the Planet.” On the day of the launch, WS enlisted the help of eco-conscious Gossip Girl star Kelly Rutherford (pictured) as a celebrity “luminary,” providing an additional hook for consumer media.
“I think what we did was create a moment in time, where we were able to leverage LIGHTCongress as one of our first big entrées into making ‘green' more relevant to consumers directly,” says Jennifer Risi, EVP and head of WS' global strategic media group.
The PR team's efforts resulted in a direct impact on the business itself, helping to capture a 17% share of total CFL sales for Osram's largest retail partner, and increasing sales by 43% in six months.
The combined effect of all of the coverage resulted in a 57% increase in top-tier media coverage over the prior year.
In addition to the story featured in USA Today, interviews with Rutherford appeared in various print, radio, TV, and online outlets, including TV Guide, Us Weekly, and ABC Radio. The effort also garnered press from key “green” sites, such as Ecorazzi.com, CNET's Green Tech Blog, Philly.com's GreenSpace blog, TreeHugger.com, and Sprig.com.
Osram will keep developing solutions and products, and is in the process of launching the second generation of the micro-mini CFL.
The company continues to look for new ways to raise awareness for what it is doing, from not only a product standpoint, but also a technology and an energy standpoint, Risi says.
Sylvania's saw an opportunity to stand out from competitors and increase market share by doing an integrated, multi-tiered campaign.
Instead of relying on the standard “green” messaging, Osram Sylvania wielded its product's unique aspects strategically and subsequently saw nonstandard results.
The team was also smart to attract key media with a celebrity hook, as well as a media tour.
PR team: Osram Sylvania (Danvers, MA) and Weber Shandwick (New York)
Campaign: All Green Hands on Deck!
Duration: October 2007- April 2008