PR campaign drives sales for Brammo's inaugural electric motorcycle

Brammo, an Oregon-based electric vehicle manufacturer, launched its first product last year: the Enertia electric motorcycle.

Client: Brammo (Ashland, Oregon)
Agency: Weber Shandwick (Seattle, WA)
Campaign: Brammo Enertia electric motorcycle launch
Duration: May – November 2009
Budget: $45,000

Brammo, an Oregon-based electric vehicle manufacturer, launched its first product last year: the Enertia electric motorcycle. Brammo director of marketing John Farris explains that PR was crucial to the launch because the company didn't have a paid media budget. It hired Weber Shandwick (WS) as AOR to raise awareness and create demand for the motorcycles, which went into production in July and are sold through Best Buy for less than $8,000.

Media relations and social media outreach were expected to raise visibility and drive awareness.

“Traditional media was a priority, but Brammo… leadership has really embraced social media,” adds Farris. “It's highly efficient.”

Chris Elliott, group manager at WS, explains that the team also planned to emphasize the partnership with Best Buy.

“The conversation about electric vehicles is hot,” Elliott says. “The problem is no one can buy one. We have an exciting vehicle that can be purchased now. People may be intimidated to buy a motorcycle at a Harley dealership. Going through Best Buy was unique.”

The team targeted hi-tech, green tech, motorcycle enthusiast, and general consumer outlets. About 25 reporters got to ride the Enertia at a New York City event in May held at the home garage of a Brammo investor.

“The setting brought to life the idea of having a motorcycle in your garage,” Elliott notes. Farris adds that driving “erased” any product apprehensions and positive reaction from people on the streets “seeded how interesting the story and product are.”

CEO Craig Bramscher was at the event, and he and Brammo lead designer Brian Wismann were available to media throughout the campaign. Both used their personal Twitter accounts to communicate. Separate company Twitter and Facebook pages were also created to give audiences a broader range of information.

The campaign exceeded expectations. Farris says Enertia sales have topped $1 million since late 2009. Visits to increased from about 100 to 200 per day prior to June 1 to an average of nearly 1,700 per day from July through November. Farris adds that an NBC Nightly News feature on November 19 generated 10,000 new visitors to the site over the following week.

Elliott reports audience reach of nearly 360 million (June 1 to November 11) in outlets including Good Morning America, Fox Business News, Fast Company, The New York Times, and Popular Mechanics.

More than 2,800 were reached in total via Twitter and Facebook. Company Twitter followers are 564 and Brammo's Facebook page has 383 fans.

Farris says Brammo is “entering a new stage as a company” and would like to continue to work with WS. Plans include wider distribution of the Enertia through Best Buy, and launches in Asia, the UK, and Canada.

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