SANTA CLARA, CA: McAfee selected Red Consultancy as its consumer AOR. The six-figure contract adds consumer duties to the firm's existing corporate and enterprise responsibilities. The selection followed a competitive bid by six agencies.
McAfee's consumer outreach plans include campaigns to further boost knowledge of its brand as an anti-virus software maker for mobile devices and Web sites, not just laptops and notebooks, according to Michael Busselen, VP of corporate communications at McAfee.
The company's consumer business includes security services for desktops and notebooks, Web sites, and mobile devices. Last quarter, McAfee's consumer business garnered $153 million in revenues, 19% growth from the same period last year.
"Our traditional business is securing laptops and portables," said Busselen. "Our revenue today is overwhelmingly derived in our consumer business from protecting PCs."
But with the proliferation of mobile devices and security breaches stemming from Web surfing, online shopping, and e-mail, the company is shifting its emphasis to new areas. McAfee is also targeting the gaming community.
"You would think gamers [are] a terrible target for security software because [they're] all about optimizing computers to make sure they get the ultimate performance," Busselen added. To reach that untapped market, McAfee will promote lean security solutions that would have a limited impact on the gaming experience.
The company's push to expand in the Web space is also linked to third-party research that indicates a growing demand for security features among online shoppers. McAfee used research from a Taylor Nelson Sofres survey that showed 70% of terminated online purchases happened because users do not trust the transaction.
"The challenge is not only to get people to use [security] technology correctly, but also to alter their behavior on how they compute and how they connect," said Busselen. "There is a huge consumer education aspect to what we need to accomplish in order to help people protect themselves."
McAfee's communications goals also include building its reputation as a consumer advocate.
"An expert in security, an advocate, a trusted ally, a partner - those are some of the words we use around [the] brand," Busselen noted. "To say exactly what consumers want, you obviously have to take it much farther than that because not all consumers are looking for the same thing."
Although the level of technical sophistication and the frequency of Web usage varies for consumers, research shows words like "expert" and "trusted ally" resonate across its core market, he added.
The company recently announced a partnership with Yahoo to launch SearchScan beta, a feature that provides alerts when users click on sites with risky software, such as spyware or adware, that can damage a PC.
The company will also introduce its new Secure Search service this summer to combat declining consumer confidence in Internet safety.
"The main thing we're trying to do is mainstream this message," explained Busselen.
Outreach will target mainstream consumer press in the traditional and new media space. Specific outlets targeted will include The Oprah Winfrey Show, regional newspapers and broadcasts, and consumer media targeting parents, single adults, and teens on a global scale, he added.
Red has handled McAfee's corporate and enterprise PR since 2005. "We're clearly thrilled to expand our relationship with McAfee [since] it was through [the company] we opened our San Francisco office," said Alice Chan, GM of Red San Francisco, who will lead the account.
Steve Kaufman, senior director at GlobalFluency, McAfee's incumbent consumer AOR, declined to comment beyond saying the firm wasn't invited to pitch.
McAfee decided to review its AOR relationship after a reorganization of the marketing team that followed the appointment of a new CEO last year, Busselen said.