B2B/Online Campaign: McAfee regains a leadership image

McAfee prides itself on being one of the original online security companies, but its own analysis of press coverage in the first half of 2007 showed it had 75 competitors that were talking to the press about internet security.

McAfee: poster campaign
McAfee: poster campaign

Campaign: McAfee Virtual Criminology Report
Client: McAfee
PR teams: The Red Consultancy
Timescale: November 2007 - April 2008
Budget: £75,00

In addition to McAfee's direct competitors, banks, government departments, police forces and online brands were all pitching stories to journalists on topics from ID fraud to data loss.

This was also the third year of the annual McAfee Virtual Criminology Report and, as it was the first time the report had a global angle, McAfee needed a fresh approach to appeal to a worldwide market.


- To position McAfee as the top thought leader in the sector and increase its share of voice against competitors

- To create a multi-market news platform for media and consumer engagement

- To generate sales.

Strategy and plan

Red identified three core themes: the increasing threat of cyber attack; the growth of a data black market; and the threat to online services. All were aimed at moving the story away from being a 'tech' story to a global issues one.

A group of independent researchers was assembled to boost the firm's credibility and provide spokespeople.

They spoke to law enforcement agencies and security experts across the world - including NATO, the FBI, SOCA and the Institute for Counter-Terrorism - to gain insights into the global and local threats of cybercrime.

Once this was done, Red collaborated with PR agencies in 20 markets to equip them with local materials ahead of the report's launch. The US media were targetted by Red's San Francisco office.

Red London handled the pan-EMEA press as well as the UK launch, opting for an early embargoed approach so journalists could review the report with enough time to prepare features rather than just news in briefs.

The agency liaised with the UK shadow minister for e-crime - James Brokenshire MP - and worked with the local agencies to establish similar links.

The researchers also blogged about the report, and consumers downloading it from www.mcafee.com had to register, which then provided sales leads.

Measurement and evaluation

The campaign generated more than 506 pieces of coverage across 30 countries, with stories appearing in 23 different languages. It also achieved 106 TV and radio hits around the world, and an estimated 900 million opportunities to see.

The Virtual Criminology Report generated 1,355 sales leads from people who downloaded the report in the first five days. They were part of the 10,972 people who viewed the site in the five days following the launch.

The report was backed up by events in the mainstream news. In the same week it was released, the head of MI5 warned security chiefs at banks, accountancies and legal firms that China was spying on the computer systems of British corporations.

The FBI announced an increased fight against the 'most serious cyber security threats' and Greg Garcia from the US Department of Homeland Security spoke about the rise of cyber attacks on governments.


As a result of the report, the Swiss Office of National Defence contacted McAfee, the London Metropolitan Police requested copies and the UK shadow e-crime minister met McAfee in February 2008.

Evaluation by Investor Dynamics also showed the Virtual Criminology Report helped boost McAfee's share of voice to snatch the top spot from competitors across EMEA in November and December 2007.


What does one think when yet another security survey comes out? Cybercrime on the rise? Tick. It is costing businesses billions of dollars? Tick. Robots are eating your children? Maybe not the last one, but there is no doubt plugging a security company's latest scary statistics is one of the best and worst jobs in tech PR.

You can quantify the problem, but as the Red team rightly identified, everybody is already talking about security.

What the team did to get round this problem was very simple - but no doubt incredibly difficult to put into practice. Using independent researchers with access to some of the world's most powerful security agencies added credibility to the report.

In terms of business value, it seems the team certainly achieved its objective - 1,355 qualified sales leads from report downloads is a fantastic result.

My only question about this campaign is why it stopped? Surely the whole point about cybercrime is that it is online, so why no interactive campaign? Requesting the researchers blog about the report is not quite the same thing. If you want to give the report a global footprint and move it towards a more consumer-friendly position, interactivity is pretty much essential. While it is great that the campaign boosted share of voice in the short term, to achieve top spot every month you need longevity. This was the ideal thought leadership platform for an integrated cross-media campaign. Next year, I suspect the team will have to go a little further if it wants to make the same impact.

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