The jetpack has been a staple of science fiction for years. Martin Aircraft sought to make fiction reality by launching its Martin Jetpack at this year's annual Experimental Aircraft (EAA) AirVenture convention in Oshkosh, WI.
CRT/Tanaka was charged with building buzz, but faced a number of obstacles: no one had ever heard of Martin Aircraft, the firm and client had to work across a 16-hour time difference, the budget was slim, CRT/Tanaka only had 30 days to execute its plan, and the price tag for the Jetpack is $100,000.
The key in introducing the Martin Jetpack was establishing credibility for the new technology. CRT/Tanaka sought placements in media outlets that would be of high esteem to its target audience, “the thrill seeker with money,” according to Brian Ellis, EVP at the firm.
“Whenever you're talking about a brand new technology, the outlets that are covering it are important,” Ellis adds. “We wanted there to be a scientific discussion about this.”
The firm targeted science blogs like Gizmodo and other relevant outlets like Popular Science. It also released a video of the Jetpack in action and offered select journalists the opportunity to test-drive the Jetpack.
The video was released on YouTube and the EAA site, which also featured details about the Jetpack and became a place to drive traffic.
The team also targeted large outlets like the London Telegraph and The New York Times. The Times was given an exclusive the morning of the launch, before a story was distributed across the AP wire.
Throughout the week of the show, reporters were given the opportunity to try the Jetpack. CNN and Today featured live coverage of their reporters in the device.
“We didn't just spin it out to a media list of outlets,” Ellis says. “We were very targeted and deliberate.”
In addition to the mentioned broadcast outlets, coverage of the Jetpack spanned across seven of the top 20 markets in the US and reached countries around the globe.
Within two weeks of the launch, Google hits went (literally) from zero to 460,000. The video segments garnered 250,000 views.
The effort also had business results with inquiries at the show from potential customers, several orders placed, and conversations between possible business partners and Martin Aircraft founder Glenn Martin.
“We were delighted that we had a range of people that came up to us,” he says.
CRT/Tanaka continues as advisers to Martin Aircraft, in large part because of the interest the agency has in the Jetpack.
The company is in a quiet mode right now while the Jetpack is refined. The goal is to execute more demonstrations when technical issues are worked out and higher test flights can be taken.
Both CRT/Tanaka and Martin Aircraft realized they couldn't simply allow a general interest in human flight suffice for the launch. Reaching target outlets that could establish the Martin Jetpack as more than just a novelty was important.
They were also realistic about the audience they sought to reach.
By partnering with the EAA beyond the trade show, the team created a perfect relationship to target its very specific audience.
PR team: Martin Aircraft (New Zealand) and CRT/Tanaka (Richmond, VA)
Campaign: Martin Jetpack launch
Duration: July 2008