TECHNOLOGY CAMPAIGN: ALK's smart sat nav finds a new voice

Launched by ALK Technologies last October, CoPilot Live 7 is the satellite navigation system that runs on a mobile smartphone. Like a dedicated GPS navigation system, it has detailed street maps and features to guide the user.

'Voice of the Tube', Emma Clarke
'Voice of the Tube', Emma Clarke

Campaign: CoPilot Live 7 - New Sense of Direction
Client: ALK Technologies
PR Team: Skywrite Communications
Timescale: November 2007-January 2008
Budget: Around£10,000

But unlike a normal sat nav, CoPilot is not left in the car for a passing thief.

In a market dominated by the likes of TomTom and Garmin, ALK turned to its retained agency Skywrite Communications to build the brand's profile and persuade consumers that they do not have to rely on several different gadgets.

Objectives
To raise awareness of CoPilot Live 7 and convince consumers that the brand offers them a 'New Sense of Direction'. To drive traffic to www.alk.eu.com and boost sales of the product in O2 and T-Mobile stores across the UK.

Strategy and plan
To find the perfect celebrity voice for the new product, Skywrite commissioned pollster firm Tickbox to find out which of 13 regional British accents people would find 'sexiest' for their sat nav system. The results showed an overwhelming preference for the 'Queen's English', with 56 per cent of the 1,377 respondents favouring the clarity of received pronunciation.

Fortuitously, not long after the campaign began, headlines broke announcing that London Underground would no longer be recording with the distinctive 'Voice of the Tube', Emma Clarke.

Seizing the opportunity to hijack the national news agenda and link the brand with a received pronunciation accent familiar to millions of commuters, Skywrite persuaded ALK to adopt Clarke as the new voice of CoPilot Live 7.

Having put her dulcet tones to all 168 sat nav instructions, the PR team issued a press release announcing its coup.

This was backed by a series of radio interviews with Clarke, organised by Talking PR, and the development of a 'voice of sat nav' microsite on alk.eu.com. Here visitors could download the newly voiced instructions and some cheeky spoofs, including the advice for drivers to 'stop picking their noses'.

The story was then sold to national and consumer technology media.

Measurement and evaluation
The campaign hit the headlines on 7 December, with a piece in The Metro, a story on the PA Wire service and an item on GMTV. Stressing the regional accent research element drummed up interest from radio stations across the UK. By the end of the first day, 55 stations had covered the story, including LBC, Sky News and Virgin Radio.

National coverage was secured in The Times, Time Out and the BBC's The Culture Show. Regional coverage included the Evening Standard, Manchester Evening News, The Birmingham Post and thelondonpaper. Online, the story targeted business types, aspirational consumers and technology adopters by T3.co.uk, MSN and Wired.com.

Interest even reached Spain - a key market for CoPilot - with the story making the front page of Elmundo.es.

Results
Hits to the ALK website rose by 10 per cent during the campaign. According to O2, by the end of last year, its Xda Orbit 2 smartphone with pre-loaded CoPilot 7 software, became its best-selling Xda model.

SECOND OPINION
Jennie Scott, head of consumer and lifestyle technology, Fleishman-Hillard

Over the past few years, sat nav products have given editors a constant flow of column inches outside of standard product reviews. Ambulances getting lost, people trying to drive through small rivers, and lorries getting stuck down narrow lanes all make for good, light-hearted copy.

However, positioning the benefits of new technology in such a brand-conscious space is very challenging outside of the technology-specific media. In a market dominated by a few key players, getting the brand name out there and creating a positive story was a tough call for Skywrite.

What was especially effective about this campaign was Skywrite's lightning-quick move to tie it into the media agenda by securing the services of Emma Clarke - the woman famous for telling millions of London's commuters to 'mind the gap'.

The 'voice of sat nav' microsite added personality to the brand and provided another valuable channel for consumers to engage with the campaign. With hindsight, this would also have been a good opportunity to employ viral tactics.

The survey idea played to the media's ongoing fixation with all things 'sexy', and by focusing on local accents, Skywrite cleverly ensured regional interest.

Overall, this looks like a well-executed campaign that delivered strong national results and met the objective of driving traffic to the website during the key Christmas retail period.

While the use of the sexiest accents survey clearly provided the 'local' angle, the campaign might have benefited from a greater focus on the crime angle, highlighting the clear benefit of their client's product over the well-established competition in this space.

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