Just a young deal site in 2009, Groupon realized that it needed PR support to promote its "off-beat personality," encompassing its ease of use; its quality of merchants; and its variety of daily deals, from sushi to skydiving, in hundreds of global markets.
The goal was to engage with current followers - 70% of whom are tech-savvy females in their 20s and 30s earning more than $100,000 annually - and gain new subscribers spanning a broad audience of both moms and 20-something single men.
The company developed Live Off Groupon, a contest and social media campaign to challenge a customer to quit his job and use only "Groupons" to travel around the US for one year.
With a budget of $195,000, it asked consumers to send video entries, the best and worst of which were featured on YouTube and shared via Groupon's Facebook and Twitter pages. Of the seven finalists interviewed in March 2010, the company chose Josh Stevens as the "Groupawn." That piece of the campaign alone resulted in 20,000 submissions.
Groupon sublet Stevens' apartment and closed his bank account while he coordinated with merchants and purchased Groupons for 63 meals and 15 activities. With a Flip camera, laptop, and iPhone, he set out to stay in sponsor hotels and with strangers he met online for the prize of $100,000 (included in the budget) if he makes it to May 2011.
"The judges were unanimous in their admiration for this campaign," said one judge.
Six months into the campaign, with the help of retainer agency SSPR, the brand generated significant media coverage from outlets such as Today, The New York Times, AOL.com, and local outlets in 20-plus cities. At this point in the activity, Groupon was about halfway to its undisclosed new subscriber goal.
Honorable Mention: Access Communications and 2K Sports: Major League Baseball 2K10 Perfect Game Competition
In 2009, 2K Sports' Major League Baseball 2K9 suffered from a relatively short development cycle and lackluster sales. In 2010, 2K sought to generate PR buzz among hardcore and casual gamers, as well as non-gamers. Working with Access Communications, it decided to award $1 million to the first person to pitch a verified perfect game using the product. With a winner and a media tour leveraging top players from the 2009 title and cover athlete Evan Longoria, the activity led to a 22% sales increase and secured coverage with 80-plus broadcast outlets.
The Award Honors success in the arts and entertainment, including films, magazines, TV shows, books, newspapers, or Web sites.
Access Communications and 2K Sports: Major League Baseball 2K10 Perfect Game Competition
Groupon: Can Man Live Off Groupon Alone?
Groupon: Grouspawn: Rewarding Your Decision to Have a Groupon Baby
Text 100 Public Relations and MTV: MTV Crowns First-Ever TJ in "Follow Me" Nationwide Job Search
Zeno Group and American Urological Association Foundation: Know Your Stats about Prostate Cancer