Campaigns: Online club targets the beautiful people

Online club is aimed at creating private and professional relationships between good-looking people, where new members are voted in by their peers.

Campaign US launch of
PR team Golden Goose PR
Timescale June 2005-February 2006
Budget £60,000

Golden Goose PR had already successfully launched the UK site in April 2005 – without any advertising or marketing – and were tasked to replicate its success across the Atlantic.

To achieve as many new applications for the US site as possible. To create a PR campaign around the launch, which was to be a swanky press party.

Strategy and Plan
The New York Post heard about the site before Golden Goose was ready to launch before Christmas, but in response the team managed to speed up completion of the US website and asked the paper to hold off for an exclusive. This approach had worked well in the UK, where the story launched with an exclusive in The Sunday Times Style supplement before it was released to the rest of the media.

In the New Year, the team flew out to New York and met with the most influential papers and TV stations to tell them about the launch, and wrote press releases and supporting media packs.

Its market analysis discovered that private members’ clubs are held in particularly high esteem in the US, so it sent out swat teams to clubs such as Soho House, where invitation cards were given to those who were considered attractive enough to apply for website membership.

The TV channels were keen to interview someone who hadn’t managed to get accepted onto the site, so the team sourced a rejectee who was willing to be interviewed, as well as flying out a few current members of the UK site to appear on US TV shows.

In the end, Golden Goose PR didn’t hold the launch party in New York until February this year (arranged by US PR company BNC), so that it could invite some actual American members and therefore generate more photo opportunities. Leading up to this though, it trained up spokespeople so that they were prepared for the American style of questioning.

Measurement and Evaluation
Launch coverage of the US site appeared in The New York Post and USA Today, and also featured on CNN, ABC’s Good Morning America and The View programme.

Some of the reports were critical, but all coverage was seen as beneficial because it created controversy.

When launched in the US, it received more than 50,000 applications in the first 24 hours and now has more than 11,000 members.

The concept is continuing to roll out to countries including Germany, Singapore and Sweden. In March, Golden Goose oversaw the launch of in Spain, using an exclusive feature in El Pais.

There are plans for launches in yet more countries, including Hong Kong and France.

A German TV station filmed the PR team at work while they launched it there, although some members of staff have received death threats from disgruntled rejectees.

Alberto Orso, a producer at ABC, says: ‘We wanted an exclusive for our show and they were fantastic. Golden Goose was incredibly sensitive to our needs and understood the competitive nature of the industry here.’

Second opinion: Jennifer O’Grady
Jennifer O’Grady, account director at Brazen, worked on the Lambrini ‘Minging or blinging?’ campaign Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so when a British business starts to define who is and isn’t attractive in the US, there’s bound to be controversy.

Taking a successful UK launch plan and applying it to the US media is brave. It was a smart move to decamp to NewYork, and the time spent training spokespeople clearly paid off.

Early media interest can panic even the most self-assured team, but buoyed by a successful UK launch, GGPR replicated the exclusive. After this, it was simply a case of managing the fallout in a way that kept front of mind.

Using beautiful case studies, along with rejects, was a clever, if risky, way to boost the controversy factor. The public will empathise with the winners and losers of the dating game, as will the debate about whether it is looks or personality that dictates true love.

Holding back on an official launch until US case studies were available gave the team a second go at the story, and bringing in the expertise of a US PR agency boosted their success.

It was a great story and GGPR didn’t over-complicate it.Golden Goose will need to employ increasingly creative tactics to maintain media interest, but as beauty is such a subjective taste, they’ll need to tread a fine line to make sure they attract more people than they offend.

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