Best Buy Turns on the Fun
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Best Buy Turns on the Fun

Best Buy hired Weber Shandwick to assist in repositioning Best Buy as the most fun, youthful, innovative and techno-savvy brand in the consumer electronics industry – a brand that offers the best solutions for making work time more productive and play tim

Paul Holmes

Best Buy hired Weber Shandwick to assist in repositioning Best Buy as the most fun, youthful, innovative and techno-savvy brand in the consumer electronics industry – a brand that offers the best solutions for making work time more productive and play time more fun. For each of the five brand repositioning programs, Weber Shandwick and Best Buy targeted males aged 15 – 44, half with children at home and an annual salary of $41,000 - $100,000. To uncover interests and buying patterns of this target audience, Weber Shandwick and Best Buy conducted Internet/database research and focus groups and found that this target is educated, optimistic, demanding, looking for a higher quality of life and thinks independently. Research also revealed that members of the target consider simplifying their lives as a top priority and value brand names because they make buying decisions quicker and easier. Additionally, Weber Shandwick conducted exhaustive research on suitable spokespeople; vendors; event permits; trends pertinent to the program’s theme; competitors; key target markets; and media outlets. Based on research findings, Best Buy built its brand repositioning program on fun and easy solutions, adapting the tagline: “Turn on the Fun,” with the goal of phasing out the more serious, cost-focused brand messages.  

PLANNING:

Weber Shandwick and Best Buy devised a year-long brand repositioning program with the following objectives: 1.) position Best Buy as a leader in technology that helps make personal time more fun and work time more productive; and 2.) create sustainable, memorable ways to further new brand positioning through media relations, special events and promotions. Strategies included: 1.) build awareness for Best Buy brand through fun, edgy national and local media relations programs; 2.) create grassroots word-of-mouth about Best Buy; and 3.) drive traffic to Best Buy stores and BestBuy.com. The success of the program was based on the following measurement criteria: the number of attendees at events, measured through register-to-win vouchers; print and broadcast media placements (including circulation figures, impressions, advertising equivalency); return on investment; sales in stores and on BestBuy.com; gift card redemption; and quantity of consumer/media inquiries. Because Best Buy has several national competitors, the team faced several challenges, including convincing the media that Best Buy’s brand is superior to the competition, executing several programs simultaneously and developing memorable and creative messages.

EXECUTION: 

To communicate Best Buy’s new brand messages and to sustain momentum throughout 2000, five programs were developed, including several newsworthy events, consumer contests, media relations techniques and guerilla marketing tactics:

LEAP DAY: Best Buy declared Feb. 29, 2000 (Leap Day) as national Time Enhancement Day. To celebrate, Best Buy conducted a consumer omnibus poll to determine time-starved Americans’ attitudes toward the quality and quantity of their free time. The survey results were incorporated into a press release/media kit and audio news release (ANR) and distributed to features/consumer tech editors/producers at the top national dailies, radio and television stations. A Time Enhancement Fun Zone was held at a Minneapolis-based university in which attendees were able to enter-to-win valuable tech prizes and try out tech toys and tools that make study time more productive and free time more fun. A media alert was issued on Feb. 29 to local Minneapolis media. Additionally, a satellite media tour (SMT) focusing on morning news programs was conducted from a Minneapolis Best Buy store and Best Buy technology and survey results were featured. 

GO MOBILE: The Go Mobile program positioned Best Buy as the expert on how consumers can make time in their vehicles more fun through Best Buy car audio, mobile video and other auto technologies. Because Atlanta is a significant auto market, a Go Mobile Fun Zone was held at the Mall of Georgia on May 27, 2000 in which guests were able to try out technologies from a fully-loaded Chrysler 2001 PT Cruiser; register-to-win several valuable technology packages; enjoy a free concert from a local Atlanta band; and listen to a radio remote from a local alternative radio station. Additionally, a satellite media tour was held at an Atlanta Best Buy store in which the spokesperson demonstrated the Cruiser’s technologies. Best Buy also conducted a national consumer omnibus poll to determine how much time Americans spend in their vehicles, what kind of drivers they are and what tech toys they most want to make travel time more fun. Results were incorporated into a release/media kit and audio news release and distributed to features/consumer tech/auto editors/producers at the top national dailies, radio and television stations.

BRING IT HOME: The first phase of the program aligned with the back-to-school theme to raise brand awareness among college-aged young adults. Best Buy conducted a national consumer “Digital Decade” survey, polling people who were college freshmen in 1990 and freshmen from 2000 to determine how technology has changed the college lifestyle in the dorm and in the classroom in the past 10 years. The results were incorporated into a news release/media kit and audio news release and distributed to top national dailies, radio and television stations. A radio media tour (RMT) also was conducted to garner attention of college-aged young adults, focusing on the latest dorm room tech toys and tools. To reach the parents of the college students, a satellite media tour that focused on morning news programs was held at a Minneapolis-based university in a “teched-out” dorm room in which the spokesperson demonstrated the latest technology for making study time more productive and free time more fun. A matte release was distributed nationally and query letters and media kits were sent to general interest, women’s men’s, home and music/technology long-lead publications. The second phase focused on raising brand awareness among young families nationwide with a high-tech home theme. A media kit, matte release and audio news release with information on how to “tech-out” a home and prepare it for the digital future was sent to top national dailies, radio and television stations. Best Buy also partnered with a Minneapolis-based builder to construct a home filled with Best Buy technologies. The Best Buy home was showcased at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Parade of Homes - open to the public. Additionally, a satellite media tour was conducted from the home. Exhaustive media relations were incorporated into both phases of the program as several story angles were aggressively pitched to features, consumer technology and home editors/producers at the top national outlets and in the Minneapolis/St. Paul market.

NEW YORK STORE OPENINGS: Best Buy and Shandwick were faced with the challenge of creating awareness of the grand openings of 15 stores in New York/New Jersey (slated to open in Sept. and Nov. 2000) – a market in which the company had no presence, and a market that had very little knowledge about Best Buy’s brand. To “turn on the fun” in this market, Best Buy:

Sponsored a free Sting concert for 25,000 people in Central Park on Sept. 12. Consumers had the chance to win 15 trips to NYC with round-trip airfare for two, a hotel package and two tickets to the concert by entering on BestBuy.com. A concert b-roll package was fed nationally via satellite, a release and media alert were issued to NYC media and the concert was simulcast on radio stations nationwide. 

Stationed several Best Buy mascots at six different subway/train locations throughout New York/New Jersey on Sept. 18 to introduce the Company to the neighborhood. Mascots distributed 20,000 free subway/train tokens and 8,000 Best Buy gift cards to commuters. Locations were carefully scouted, considering new store locations and high-commuter subway train stops. A media alert was issued via the NYC features wire on Sept. 15. Follow-up calls were conducted that same day. Additionally, 50 Best Buy umbrellas and one million branded coffee cups were distributed to various Manhattan delis and street vendors. 

Garnered national broadcast coverage by stationing mascots bearing branded gifts at the CBS Early Show, Today Show and MTV’s Total Request Live on Sept. 18, 20 and 21. Mascots/staff members gave-away Best Buy hats, gift cards and subway tokens to people standing outside. A Best Buy spokesperson was interviewed on the Early Show, and in all three cases, signage with brand messages were captured on camera and people outside of the windows wore the Best Buy gear and held Best Buy signs.

Demonstrated the hottest home technologies and connected directly with consumers at a Best Buy Fun Zone at Grand Central on Sept. 18. The ultimate urban apartment was constructed, filled with leading-edge technologies. Attendees had the opportunity to register to win valuable tech prizes, and branded T-shirts, hats, subway tokens and gift cards were given to guests. A media alert and photo were issued via the NYC features wire on Sept. 15, and follow-up calls were conducted that same day. 

Donated $1 million to New York area youth programs and held a ScholarShop event. A portion of the money was donated to a struggling school in Staten Island to initiate the ScholarShop program to prepare students for post-secondary education. ScholarShop and Best Buy hosted an event at the school on Sept. 20 to motivate students to plan for their futures. Marcus Camby of the New York Knicks - a child advocate and aspiring school principal - spoke with the students about the importance of higher education. A media alert and photos were issued via the NYC features and sports wire on Sept. 19. Media calls were conducted that same day. 

Held a Fun Zone on Sept. 21 outside of the New York Stock Exchange to show business consumers how to make work time more productive and free time more fun. Branded signage on the façade of the NYSE building, a New York skyline backdrop served as compelling visuals. Attendees interacted with a variety of cutting-edge tech toys and tools – featured in Best Buy's quintessential urban office, as well as the latest in mobile video and car audio technology – featured in a fully-loaded 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser. Attendees could enter to win several prize packages, and those attending received breakfast and various Best Buy branded trinkets. A media alert and photos were issued via the NYC features wire on Sept. 20. Media calls were conducted that same day in NYC/Minneapolis markets.

Arranged an analyst meeting at the NYSE the same morning as the NYSE Fun Zone as a branding initiative targeted at the financial community. Best Buy’s CEO and mascot rang the opening bell, providing excellent photo opportunities. Additionally, Best Buy executives met with analysts to discuss how entering the New York market will impact the company and its position in the marketplace.

Executed grand opening activities at 11 stores on Sept. 22 and four in Nov. Stores were decorated with balloons; cookies and Best Buy “beanie babies” were given away; a ribbon-cutting ceremony with store employees, executives and mascots was held; and local dignitaries and media were invited to attend. A media alert was issued via the NYC features wire on Sept. 21.

HOLIDAY 2000: The program focused on gifts that make the holidays magical. A creative holiday mailer that included a list of the hottest tech gifts and a Best Buy “beanie baby” was sent to male/female/family/home-focused long-lead publications in July 2000.  A media kit was distributed in Sept. 2000 to top national dailies, radio and television stations that included a list and photos of high-tech gifts for people of all ages, information about shopping on BestBuy.com and information about Best Buy’s involvement in Toys for Tots.

EVALUATION

Public relations efforts surrounding Best Buy’s brand repositioning produced impressive results and achieved all of Best Buy’s objectives. As of February 20, 2001, all brand repositioning programs garnered a cumulative total of nearly 303 million impressions, a relative advertising equivalency of $19 million and a return on investment of $17 million or 1,150 percent. The majority of media coverage positioned Best Buy as a fun brand and as a leader in technology, and all media relations, events and promotions supported Best Buy’s new brand positioning.

Leap Day: 1,000 people came to the event, based on the number of register-to-win vouchers, and 66 out of 100 gift cards were redeemed at Best Buy through August. More than 4 million impressions were achieved. Key media placements include USA Today, Boston Globe and the Denver Post

The team also secured 52 ANR airings and 17 SMT airings.

Go Mobile: 1,000 gift bags were distributed in the first hour of the Fun Zone and about 1,700 people entered for the register-to-win prizes. More than 4 million impressions were achieved. Key media placements include USA Today and Brandweek. The team secured 46 ANR airings and 63 SMT airings.  

Bring It Home/Phase 1: Generated more than 7 million impressions with an advertising equivalency of $870,000 and ROI of $634,000 or 320 percent. Key media placements include Chicago Daily Herald, Baltimore Sun and Orlando Sentinel. The team secured 398 ANR airings and 76 SMT airings.

Bring It Home Phase 2: More than 3,000 people visited the Best Buy home and 2,000 $5 gift cards were handed out to visitors. Additionally, the Best Buy home will continue to be shown as a model home for the partnering builder in 2001. The team also secured 27 ANR airings and 74 SMT airings.

New York Grand Openings: Garnered coverage in nearly 300 national and local media outlets and generated more than 85 million impressions, worth an advertising equivalency of $12 million. Best Buy achieved a 2,176 percent ROI, translating to almost $11 million. Approximately 3,500 people attended the Grand Central Fun Zone while 9,300 people attended the NYSE Fun Zone. During Aug. – Sept. 2000, Best Buy corporate headquarters received 48 emails from consumers and media regarding the store openings, and from Sept. 1 – 21, Best Buy received 300 emails from consumers and media regarding the Sting Concert. Additionally, store sales figures on opening day were between 25 percent and 150 percent beyond projections. 
Holiday 2000: Garnered more than 1,000 Best Buy media mentions to date, 242 million impressions and an advertising equivalency of more than $10 million. Key placements include the Chicago Sun Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. The team anticipates further media coverage as the team is still receiving clips from the clipping service regarding the holiday program.

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