Napster, the erstwhile illegal file-sharing service, hired Nelson Bostock Communications to announce its UK launch as a legitimate online music store. Objectives
To re-establish the Napster brand. To emphasise that Napster is now a legal service. To reassure previous users that despite being legitimate and paid-for, the service retained community features such as song-swapping and shared playlists.
Strategy and Plan
The launch, including media relations, press conference planning and an industry party, had to be conducted in less than two months.
With no advertising support, the team wanted to maximise coverage by avoiding details of the launch leaking out gradually. The challenge was to keep the details secret, while raising enough interest for a press conference. The launch event, held at Sketch, was billed simply as an announcement of plans for a future UK launch.
In the two weeks that preceded the event, a series of partnership announcements was issued and a number of pre-briefings were arranged for certain elements of the media.
Packages were tailored to IT magazines, consumer and trade music press, and TV news crews with no knowledge of the market. The team developed short guides to downloading and spent time explaining the history of the service and the music-downloading market.
For music and youth media, rock band Ash were recruited to attend the press conference, and business titles were hooked up with industry and record executives. For the consumer internet and technology press, the team worked with both Intel and Samsung to show how Napster could be used over the latest PC and MP3 jukebox technology.
Guerilla brand activity included chalkings, stickers and projections of the Napster cat's head logo around London during the launch, and an 'establish the brand as still cool' party was held at the Borderline, in London.
Measurement and Evaluation
More than 150 journalists attended the conference, and 90 one-to-one interviews were conducted with Napster's spokespeople. Napster got a mention in every national newspaper, including a front-page splash in the Evening Standard and a full-page 'How to download using Napster' guide in the Daily Mail. TV coverage included BBC Breakfast, BBC Lunchtime News, ITV Evening News, Five News, CNN, Sky News and Newsround. Radio mentions included Radio 1,2,4 and Five Live, XFM and Capital, and the story ran online on Yahoo!, the BBC and Sky. There was extensive coverage in the music press, including NME and Music Week.
Napster dominated the news agenda on the launch day and the following weekend. Ninety-eight per cent of cuttings delivered the key message that the service was now legal. A further 85 per cent mentioned that the service was safe to use and 80 per cent explained the community element of the service.
The Financial Times European IT and new media correspondent Chris Nuttall says: 'I thought the Napster launch was well handled. I was ready to write Napster off as just a cheap exploitation of the brand, but the team convinced me it remained true to the original spirit, while being legal and a satisfying consumer experience.'