Excuse Me, But Is This Your Wallet?
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Holmes Report

Excuse Me, But Is This Your Wallet?

Though General Electric hardly has a brand identity problem, it is more commonly associated with appliances and light bulbs than as a leader in personal finance.

Paul Holmes

  EXCUSE ME, BUT IS THIS YOUR WALLET?  That was the question GE Financial Network asked consumers last summer when it dropped 5,000 wallets across the country in a campaign managed by PepperCom. 
Though General Electric hardly has a brand identity problem, it is more commonly associated with appliances and light bulbs than as a leader in personal finance.  Last year, the company teamed up with its promotions (Ryan Partnership), advertising (Organic), program planning (Momentum) and public relations (PepperCom) agencies to create a national campaign to launch GE’s online personal finance initiative, the GE Financial Network (www.GEFN.com).
The creative solution was the Tossed & Found campaign, an innovative, integrated promotion that successfully separated GE Financial Network (GEFN) from the online personal finance clutter.
Abandoning traditional GE marketing strategies, GE Financial Network, with the help of professionally trained wallet droppers, randomly “tossed” 5,000 wallets in 10 major metropolitan areas from July 10th to August 6th.  The wallets (men’s and women’s) were loaded with prizes, including a $100,000 GE Funds’ Investment Account, a year’s payment towards a residential mortgage, and $5,000 deposited to an individual’s online banking account. 
The major challenge facing GE was establishing credibility in a brand-new category—personal finance.  At the same time, Wingspanbank.com, MotleyFool, MetLife and other established players absolutely dominated the space.  So how could GEFN break through the clutter and create awareness?  The radical Tossed and Found project was the answer.
  • Raise GEFN above the clutter of the world of online financial services and drive traffic to the GEFN.com Web site
  • Build awareness among consumers between the ages of 35 and 65, with household incomes of more than $75,000
  • Establish GE’s reputation as a major force in consumer financial services that leads through education and financial learning
  • Utilize the media to gain a large surge in coverage of GEFN and the wallet campaign itself over the five-week promotion.
  • Balance media outreach between print, broadcast and online outlets.
  • Employ different tactics throughout each phase of the campaign to create a constant presence in the media over the five-week period.
  • Work in tandem with promotional firms, legal advisors and GEFN staff to develop a cohesive program that leverages each firm’s expertise.
GE and PepperCom initiated a variety of tactics to build awareness of the campaign:
News release announcing campaign
On-air radio promotions - We targeted a top-tier adult radio station in each market with which to partner for the pre-event publicity. As part of the initiative, we created special promotional wallets that the radio stations used for on-air giveaway contests.
Guess the Drop Spot - We prearranged for local TV stations in the markets to agree to announce clues each week as to where the wallets will be dropped in that city.  PepperCom supplied the stations with the clues and links to the GEFN.com Web site.
B-Roll - To coincide with the press release, we produced B-roll footage of wallet droppers getting trained on how to drop the wallets; wallets being dropped and found; and interviews with Chris Matthews, GEFN spokesperson.
Advance - The day before the national launch, we generated an advance story in Reuters. This produced instant online and offline news coverage, including online portals like Excite, as well as national news outlets.
During the Promotion
Distributed clues each week to all of the broadcast outlets in the 12 markets as to where the wallets would be dropped.  In addition to revealing the clues on air, several TV stations also posted them at their individual Web sites.
Media relations: All out media relations blitz to print and broadcast outlets in the local markets, national print and broadcast, and major online news outlets.
“Candid Camera” – Arranged for several local market broadcast outlets to film consumers finding the wallets during the promotion. Segments featured interviews with “winners” as well as with Chris Matthews, GEFN spokesperson.
Wallet Dropper Mystique – We purposely did not reveal the identities of the wallet droppers in each market, in order to protect them, but also to generate a sense of mystique about the promotion.  Our efforts paid off with two interviews on CNN featuring disguised wallet droppers.
The campaign was a tremendous success (see media results section).  During the four-week campaign, we achieved more than 100 placements and 85,195,077 impressions, including, Reuters, Bloomberg, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Chicago Tribune, Business Week, Advertising Age, Brandweek, CNN, Forbes, CNNfn Business Unusual, iWon.com and more. 
American Banker magazine cited the Tossed and Found program as one of the most innovative Internet marketing campaigns of the year. 
In fact, the campaign was such a success that GEFN is currently planning Tossed and Found 2 for Summer 2001.
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