Launch strategies in action

Harnessing the force

Harnessing the force

Zenon chip ties into Star Wars to bring technology to the masses

The Brief

Product: Zenon Accelerator, a new computer graphics chip for home computers.

Description: While this new chip will definitely enhance video game playing, the manufacturer has decided to target the broader market of people who want to enhance the performance of everyday video applications, such as streaming video, DVD rendition and home movie-editing.

Target: Computer savvy, but not techno-geek: Owns a home computer, but doesn’t necessarily subscribe to Wired.

Timeline: Two months to launch.

Assignment: To build up recognition of the Zenon Accelerator among regular computer buyers. The goal is to become recognized to the point where new computer owners see the chip as a must-have, as they now recognize and demand Intel processors.

The campaign

Situation analysis

Home PCs are no longer being used just for writing resumes, doing homework or tracking family finances. With the proliferation of multimedia content available on the Internet, today’s home PCs have become entertainment centres. Recent research from Yankee Group found that consumers with broadband Internet access are using their home PCs for the following entertainment activities:

* Playing audio CDs: 76%

* Playing online games: 60%

* Downloading music: 49%

* Watching streaming videos: 33%

* Downloading movies: 23%

* Watching DVDs: 23%

With ‘entertainment computing’ at the forefront of home PC use, Zenon Accelerator has the opportunity to own the concept of enhanced multimedia performance for the user’s improved PC entertainment experience. Zenon’s chip would be positioned as the essential element necessary to provide the highest level of PC entertainment.

Audience

It is important to remember, however, that we are targeting a mainstream audience that, while computer savvy, would not be classified as ‘computer geeks.’ The key to sharing the Zenon Accelerator story with the public will be to downplay the technology side of the story and play up the benefit to the consumer – such as its ease of use, fun quotient and cool factor.

Research shows men as the consumer demographic that spends the most time online and the most time watching or listening to streaming media. Youth are a secondary target audience for the Zenon Accelerator, with women also playing a key role due to their influence on the purchasing decision.

From a media relations perspective, High Road would target outlets that are geared towards these audiences. These include:

* General-interest broadcast media (radio and television)

* National daily newspapers

* General-interest publications

* Consumer-focused technology trades

* Gaming publications

Strategy

To maximize awareness around the launch of the Zenon Accelerator, High Road recommends the following PR strategies:

* Generate mass consumer appeal and excitement by creating links to current pop culture trends.

* Leverage partnerships with hardware manufacturers and game developers to provide a complete picture of the enhanced computing experience.

* Highlight the power of the chip through demos of PC games, streaming video, etc.

One of the biggest pop culture events coming up in May is the release of Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones. In fact, fans have already started to purchase tickets for opening weekend.

The target audience for the movie is a direct match with the target audience for the Zenon Accelerator, and given the simultaneous release of the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic PC game, presents an excellent opportunity to highlight its enhanced multimedia capabilities.

Just as the ‘force’ gives knights their Jedi power, the Zenon Accelerator gives consumers the power to enhance their multimedia computing experience. This theme will form the foundation for the launch of the Zenon Accelerator.

Execution

In early May – prior to the release of Star Wars Episode II – High Road will send a light sabre with an invitation rolled up inside the tube of light to targeted trade, consumer and gaming media. The media will be invited to witness the ‘force’ of the Zenon chip at a Star Wars preview press conference at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Toronto.

At the press conference, vendor partners like HP, Compaq and Dell will play a key role: the room will be filled with a variety of PCs, some with the chip installed, and some without. This will enable reporters to experience the difference the Zenon chip makes in their multimedia computing experience. To demonstrate the power of the Zenon Accelerator, media will have a variety of multimedia applications to check out, including:

* Sneak preview of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones on streaming video.

* The Knights of the Old Republic Star Wars PC game, which will be installed on the PCs for reporters to demo. An exclusive agreement with game developer BioWare Corp. will enable reporters to see enhanced graphics that are only available with the Zenon Accelerator chip.

* A streaming video interview with Canadian actor Hayden Christensen, who is playing the role of Anakin Skywalker in Episode II.

To reach media in key markets outside of Toronto (e.g. Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver), the press conference will be Webcast. In addition, B-roll will be taped and prepared on the same day as the press conference to provide broadcast media across the country with easy access to the event material.

This memorable experience, and the see-it-to-believe-it ‘force’ of the chip, will give the Zenon Accelerator a strong launch into the enhanced multimedia performance market.

Mia Wedgbury is senior partner and co-founder of Toronto-based High Road Communications, a Fleishman-Hillard company that helps technology companies expand their businesses through results-driven public relations and marketing communications. For more information, visit www.highroad.com.