Compelling storytelling drives sales of Automatic

Automatic is a "smart driving assistant" that includes a device and mobile app.

Client: Automatic (San Francisco)
: H3O Communications (San Francisco)
: Automatic launch
: February 15 - May 15, 2013
: $30,000

Automatic is a “smart driving assistant” that includes a device and mobile app. It helps users make driving habit changes that can save gas, and it can also call for help in an emergency, diagnose engine problems, and help users remember where they parked their car.

The product became available for preorder on March 12, and H3O Communications was hired to promote it and the company (also named Automatic). 

“One of the challenges with Automatic as a product is it doesn't immediately sell itself,” explains Ljuba Miljkovic, chief product officer at Automatic. “We needed to tell a story, and we spent a lot of time crafting that story on our website. We needed the press to help tell the story of this product and its many different features as a unified product.”

The team created a messaging platform to appeal to early adopters and a range of media outlets and blogs.

The website (, a video explaining the product, and social media outreach also drove awareness.

“We wanted to make sure we were telling the ‘how' story and putting all the pieces together,” says agency account manager Linden Kohtz. “We used the founders' stories, including their backgrounds at UC Berkley and in transportation, as a hook.”  

The launch was pitched under embargo in mid-February to tech, automotive, business, environmental, and general consumer traditional media outlets and blogs. 

Automatic founders personally gave product demonstrations to influential tech, automotive, and general consumer reporters in San Francisco and New York City in late February and early March.

The product video was launched with the website on March 12 and posted to Facebook and YouTube. 

Automatic's founders used email, Facebook, and Twitter to ask their personal and professional contacts to spread word of the launch.

Everyone who pre-ordered was given the option to easily tweet about their order and a link to the website.

“We sold out of inventory we had allocated for the first two months within the first week of launch,” Miljkovic says.

One hundred thirty-five stories ran in less than three weeks in outlets such as Fast Company, CNBC, Forbes, VentureWire, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, Engadget, Mashable, and on an ABC World News “Real Money” segment with Diane Sawyer.

The video got more than 175,000 YouTube views in less than one week. It had nearly 260,000 YouTube views as of late August.

Website metrics were unavailable.

The campaign also garnered more 6,000 tweets and 2,450 Facebook likes in three weeks.

Automatic continues to work with the agency. The team is preparing for the product's upcoming wide release.

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