A new generation of delivery trucks are now delivering cleaner air and reducing dependence on foreign oil. Less than one year after President Obama visited a Navistar truck plant announcing approval of federal funds to develop electric trucks as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Navistar announced the availability of the first purpose-built electric commercial truck.
Without an advertising budget, PR played the lead role in securing awareness among business owners about the advantages of the new electric vehicle. Navistar looked to Ketchum to deliver a strong launch plan for its newest innovation – the eStar.
• With 11.5 million barrels of oil per day consumed by on-road vehicles (more than half by commercial vehicles), commercial truck customers are looking for viable ways to reduce spending on petroleum-based fuel
• In addition to sustainability needs, commercial truck customers also need “green” vehicles to be able to perform at a high level
• Key industries to target for electric trucks include:
o General Freight
o Utility Companies
o Local and State Governments
The objectives of the eStar product launch:
• Inform government officials, business owners and fleet managers that Navistar has built the first purpose-built all-electric commercial truck that honestly changes the game – more fuel efficient, with an unmatched driving experience
• Secure 25 million media impressions
• Help drive 25-50 immediate orders of the product
Ketchum’s strategy to unveil eStar:
• Align partnerships with key customers, such as FedEx and Pacific Gas & Electric, to help build the credibility and viability of the eStar among media and influencers.
• Attract general media far beyond truck trade magazines to reach business owners in mainstream media
• Launch the category-defining electric truck with a one-two punch of a physical press conference and an online press conference.
o The onsite press conference took place at the Indiana plant where the eStar is produced, providing media and government officials with access to the production process. The keys of the first eStar produced were handed over to the first customer – FedEx
o The online press conference allowed media from around North America to learn about the eStar and introduced the online press center, which included video, photos and specs for media who could not attend in person to use
Pre-Launch Activities – Secure partnerships with key customers FedEx and Pacific Gas & Electric to participate in media activities
Launch – Invite top national and local media to onsite and online press conference to announce eStar launch
Onsite – More than 20 media attended the onsite press conference, which included a plant tour, ride and drives and executive interviews from Navistar, FedEx and government officials
Online – More than 40 media participated in the virtual press conference, which included testimonials from FedEx and PG&E about why this vehicle is important to their company
Post-Launch Activities – Continue aggressive follow-up with media, including scheduling product demos when the eStar was taken on the road to various markets.
EVALUATION OF SUCCESS/MEASUREMENT
Overall, the eStar launch received excellent media coverage in key trade outlets such as Fleet Owner and Government Engineering, as well as in national outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and the Associated Press. It was even featured on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update (“…let me be the first to say, ‘Welcome back glaciers!’”)
• Media impressions: 45 million
• Navistar received additional “expressions of interest” from 24 companies (pending additional grant approval/funding) that represent a possible 50-200 additional orders -- CONFIDENTIAL
• Stock price increased 19.5 percent from the week before the launch to two weeks after the launch
• Calls from Vice President Biden in between press conferences: 1