When a team of engineers from New Zealand decided to launch the world’s first practical jetpack, the company called on CRT/tanaka to address and create a plan that would generate global media coverage, new leads for funding and sales leads. With limited time and resources, the agency’s strategic media relations campaign garnered more than 1,000 broadcast hits across the United States, including all major U.S. networks and seven of the top 20 markets. Both CNN and NBC’s “TODAY” show carried live segments featuring reporters flying the device. The story received front page coverage in both The New York Times and London Telegraph, and stories appeared in other national papers and globally in countries such as Russia, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, India, Australia, China and Japan. In addition, several individuals placed orders on the spot and the sales team generated more than 40 “interested” leads at the show.
IT’S A BIRD, IT’S A PLANE…NO, IT’S A MARTIN JETPACK
For 27 years, Martin Aircraft was cloaked in secrecy as founder Glenn Martin and a team of engineers quietly worked to create the first practical jetpack. Although still in the concept testing mode (meaning very limited flights), the company needed to create a buzz about the new product to continue to drive the development process. But how could a no-name company from New Zealand be taken seriously with a device that looked nothing like the previous jetpack models? Martin Aircraft decided to launch its jetpack at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual EAA AirVenture convention in Oshkosh, Wis., in late July 2008. The company called on CRT/tanaka to create and execute a plan that would achieve three primary objectives:
- Generate credible global media coverage for the product launch.
- Create an environment to enhance discussions with investors and generate new leads for funding.
- Generate sales leads, both at EAA AirVenture and on the Martin Aircraft Web site.
The catch: test flights at the show were limited to no more than six feet off the ground for less than a minute and the PR campaign could last only 30 days with a budget of just $35,000.
Martin chose EAA’s AirVenture, the largest aviation event in the United States, as the site of the first public unveiling of the Martin Jetpack. But, Oshkosh created challenges of its own. How could we lure top national media outlets to the middle of Wisconsin for a seldom-covered aviation event? In order to target possible investors, CRT/tanaka needed a communications plan that reached beyond the aviation community and connected with mainstream media outlets, technology trades and Web-based venues.
The agency decided to tease top outlets with online coverage and lock them in by offering a select few powerful outlets a chance to fly the machine. CRT/tanaka targeted media based on their ability to influence other media outlets and their network feed systems that would push their coverage to other outlets across the globe. Prior to the unveiling, CRT/tanaka launched two teaser videos that discussed man’s fascination with jetpacks and one that offered a sneak peak from the pilot’s perspective of what it would be like to fly the jetpack. The agency then leveraged the online videos to entice traditional outlets to bite on the story. To ensure strong international coverage, CRT/tanaka targeted The New York Times and CNN, offering exclusive coverage opportunities. To guarantee widespread national coverage, especially on launch day, the agency conducted pre-event interviews with the Associated Press.
By 5 a.m. the morning of the launch, the Martin Jetpack was featured on the front page of The New York Times and multiple features were running across the Associated Press wire, reaching newsrooms around the world. Within the first two hours after the launch, media outlets from across the globe were requesting interviews with Glenn and his team. Within the first week, the results were staggering:
- More than 1,000 broadcast hits across the United States, including all major U.S. networks and seven of the top 20 markets. Both CNN and NBC’s “Today Show” carried live segments featuring reporters flying the device.
- Front page coverage in The New York Times and London Telegraph. Stories also appeared in other national papers and globally in countries such as Russia, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, India, Australia, China and Japan. The total media value garnered by the campaign is estimated at $15 million.
- Multiple potential investors contacted the company about possible partnerships.
- Several individuals placed orders on the spot and the sales team generated more than 40 “interested” leads at the show.
- Web traffic exceeded 100,000 visitors in the first 48 hours. The “place an order page” on the Martin Jetpack Web site was the second most popular page after the “take a peek” video segment.