CAMPAIGN: Entrepreneur unveils ID system for kids online

In 2004, software entrepreneur Alex Hewitt found his young daughter using an online instant messaging service. He was disturbed to discover that of the 150 people on her 'friend' list, she only knew 50. Read on...

Campaign Stranger Danger
Client NetIDme
PR team Weber Shandwick Glasgow
Timescale 21 July-2 August 2006
Budget Less than £20,000

Concerned for her safety, Hewitt decided to develop a software system called NetIDme. The system was the world’s first virtual ID card that can check for people’s age and identity over the internet.

To reach more than 100 million people in target countries – the UK, US, Canada and Australia. To underline verification standards behind the technology, which are similar to those used for national passport applications.

Strategy and Plan
With only ten days from initial briefing to launch, Weber Shandwick Glasgow produced a timeline of the product’s development history, and selected the main themes that would maximise media coverage.

These messages encompassed the technology being a global first, the fact that it had been developed in response to Hewitt’s worries about his own child, and that it had been tested and backed by a number of organisations including schools and the police.

On a limited budget, the PR team staged the global launch in London, securing the endorsement of online child-safety expert John Carr, who works with children’s charity NCH.

Aware that more than a presentation would be needed to attract journalists to the launch event, Weber Shandwick emp­loyed child actors to recreate a ‘stranger danger’ scenario.

The team iss­ued teaser invitations to more than 6,000 targeted media worldwide.

On launch day, information was rolled out to each key territory, while 25 print and broadcast interviews were org­anised with Hewitt and Carr.

Measurement and Evaluation
According to in-house evaluation, 113 million people worldwide had the opp­ortunity to see or hear something about the campaign. UK broadcast media hits included Channel Four, Five, BBC Newsround and Sky TV.

The number of hits on NetIDme’s website rocketed from 50 on 31 July 2006 to 120,000 on launch day (1 Aug­ust), and 140,000 on 3 August.

The firm says that as a result of PR activity it has received hundreds of business enquiries and is currently in talks with networking websites, ISPs and national governments.

Hewitt says: ‘The campaign secured widespread media coverage in our key target markets.’

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