Creative content, ambassador plan sees cameras snapped up

Lytro hired Method Communications to help launch the Lytro Illum, its new light-field camera.

Client: Lytro (Mountain View, California)
Agency: Method Communications (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Campaign: Lytro Illum launch
Duration: March 1-June 1
Budget: $45,000

Lytro hired Method Communications to help launch the Lytro Illum, its new light-field camera. Light-field technology allows the photographer and the viewer to change the perspective and other aspects of an image after it’s shot.

"We’re creating a new category with light-field photography, so we needed a solid, robust PR strategy," explains Azmat Ali, VP of marketing at Lytro. "We’re bringing major innovation to photography and we wanted to show industry leadership."

The launch announcement was made on April 22, and cameras were available to pre-order through July 31.

Method Communications and Lytro’s creative AOR, GreenLight Media & Marketing, worked with five well-known photographers who served as ambassadors. They used the Lytro Illum to capture images that highlight the camera’s ability to create living pictures. The content was used to engage audiences across owned and earned channels.

"PR was a primary driver to frame conversations about Lytro around light-field tech and drive pre-orders," explains Method VP Spencer Parkinson. "Our ambassadors and content strategy played a big part in maintaining momentum."

Lytro executives gave embargoed interviews and demonstrations to top-tier journalists and bloggers covering technology, photography, business, general consumer, and lifestyle sectors during press tours in Mountain View, San Francisco, and New York City just ahead of the announcement.

On April 22, a refreshed version of with a custom page for the camera went live. The ambassadors’ images were released on a rolling basis on the website and on Lytro’s social media channels. Ambassadors also shared photos with audiences on their personal social platforms.

"We saw a direct impact on pre-orders each time we released new content," says Ali.

A trailer for a 10-minute behind-the-scenes video of the ambassadors’ experience with the camera was pitched and posted online in April, with the full video going live in May.

Post-launch, the team pitched deep dive angles including the science of light-field photography. Beginning in late July, an infographic related to the history of photography was posted online to help drive engagement around World Photography Day on August 19.

Lytro sold all of the cameras the company could produce for July and August.

"Through the campaign we managed to achieve about 60% of our first year’s sales forecast in pre-sales, and it wasn’t a modest forecast," Ali says.

Between April 22 and 27, the campaign generated 21,356 mentions across Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Reddit, and Tumblr. Overall reach topped 66.5 million. Measuring across the same channels from April 15 to 21, Lytro had 456 mentions with an overall reach of about 1.1 million. got 1.9 million page views and 525,000 unique visitors from April 22-28. During the same week in 2013, the site had 118,000 page views and 45,000 unique visitors.

"We got almost as much website traffic through this campaign as we did when we launched our first product in 2011," Ali explains. "I have never seen that kind of traffic for a second launch."

More than 800 articles ran worldwide on April 22. About 1,570 stories had run as of late July. Outlets that covered it included The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Fortune, Reuters, CNN, Time, and Mashable. Given the success of the Illum launch campaign, Lytro named Method Communications AOR for PR in late May.

The team, including GreenLight Media & Marketing, will continue to create fresh content and expand the ambassador program. Method Communications is also focusing on pitching vertical industry outlets, including fashion and sports, and generating industry reviews.

PRWeek's View
There was a lot to show and tell here, and results are a testament to the fact that this team did an outstanding job of both. The ambassador program was really smart and important to driving consumer and professional audience understanding of light-field technology, the camera’s capability, and pre-orders. Overall, this campaign is a great example of how relevant, engaging content can fuel significant social and traditional media results and sales. 

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