(2002-2003) Winner Silver Icon, Technology Marketing Magazine

CREATING A NEW CONSUMER ELECTRONICS CATEGORY (National Introduction of the Archos Jukebox Multimedia 20)

Working with a manufacturer in France, a product produced in China, a marketing arm in California and a public relations agency in New York, a fully balanced public relations program was produced to introduce a totally new category in consumer electronics.  With the total absence of paid print advertising and in-store retail display, the program demonstrated the effectiveness and penetration of public relations by reaching all types of media throughout the United States.  These included print, broadcast, online and research analysts.  Working with other public relations agencies in England, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Japan and elsewhere accomplished worldwide communications impact and penetration.

1.Initial strategic objective/mission statement:

Archos Technology, U.S. arm of the Paris, France-based Archos S.A., which until now had a low-key U.S. consumer presence, sought to roll out a powerful new generation of all-in-one hand-held multimedia equipment for U.S. consumers.  The new products were clearly several orders of magnitude more advanced than any competing technology available in the United States.  The roll-out of actual product was easily eight months to two years ahead of technologies announced by such industry leaders as Intel and Apple.  To achieve this, the first such product began shipping in July 2002 and opened a totally new category of personal consumer electronics.  The first device was the Archos Jukebox Multimedia 20, a palm-sized MP3 audio recorder and player with MPEG4 video and photo capabilities.  Strategic objectives of the Archos program were to: 1) leapfrog the consumer electronics industry with this bold new technology, 2) introduce a whole new technological advance to U.S. consumers, 3) establish a new technology category in the consumer electronics market, 4) begin the essential steps for Archos branding in the USA, 5) achieve an impressive level of sales for its new Jukebox Multimedia product category, and thus, 6) strengthen Archos presence in the U.S.

2.Details of strategy used:

In addition to mass press release mailings and one-on-one editorial telephone contact, tactics included a product launch with a well-attended NYC press conference July 31, 2002. This launch event attracted more than 50 writers, reporters and editors to New York’s Novotel Hotel, and included development of appropriately detailed press information kits. This was followed by an unceasingly intense program for seeking product reviews by loaning equipment to product reviewers in the news media and at research organizations, an imaginative and intensive back-to-school student and audiophile/videophile gift ideas program for holiday giving and several New York and key market city media tours. These were valuable for securing press interviews, aggressive print media and radio-TV promotions with major national print and broadcast news media, and continued interaction and relationship building with significantly important news media.

To be successful, Archos and Zlokower felt it necessary to reach out to music- video- photography and computer-loving consumers through traditional print, broadcast and online media and communications channels.  These included all known online publications, e-zines, newsletters and media outlets, as well as print media.  Print media targets included those serving general consumers, the business community, computer and music buffs and enthusiasts, plus general outlets serving all walks of life.  We reached out to journalists at television and radio outlets.  Our public relations program demonstrated how Zlokower Company public relations staff, working with Archos Marketing Director Gilda Eldridge, created absolute total media presence for the Archos Jukebox Multimedia 20 technology.   Plans included appropriate written technical and feature-type materials, the major New York launch event, arrangements for product appearances and giveaways on national and New York radio and TV.  The program also provided for interviews, reviews and placements with major newspapers, magazines, wire services and syndicates, including distribution of evaluation product widely to media for test and review.

Also planned were demonstrations at Comdex and the Consumer Electronics Shows. Proof of results:  The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) honored the product in its Personal Electronics category in its Innovations 2003 competition, Business Week cited it in its November 11, 2002 cover story, Time magazine recognized it November 18, 2002 among its “Coolest Inventions of 2002,” and CNET cited it as Second among its “Editors’ Top 5” Mobile Hardware items.   Importantly, Archos’ objectives were significantly more than met with sales of over 100,000 units, using strictly public relations techniques, with the complete absence of major retail store exposure or visibility, or print advertising support.  Marketing and publicity resulted in editorial coverage in Timemagazine, U. S. News & World Report, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes, PC World, CBS Television, CNN Television, Tech TV and others large and small.  Overall, public relations techniques resulted in appearances in 187 print articles, 275 syndicated mentions and articles, 41 printed reviews, 17 reviews in electronic media including radio and TV and 37 web site reviews.  These were credited by Archos with the introductory success of the company’s and the industry’s first-ever hand-held audio-video technology products.