iCrossing case study
Developing the iCrossing brand in the UK
iCrossing is the largest global independent digital marketing company, working with clients such as The Coca Cola company, Bank of America, Toyota and Channel 4. The company has 13 offices worldwide and 620 employees, 120 of whom operate from the UK across two offices.
Liberate Media was hired to develop and execute a PR campaign for Spannerworks (later acquired by iCrossing) in November 2006. The campaign demonstrated so much success that it evolved in line with the organisation’s growth, acquisition and expanded service offering over a two year period.
For the purposes of this case study, the PR campaign has been divided into two phases. Phase one looks at the work carried out on the Spannerworks brand (November 06 – Dec 07). Phase two focuses on the PR campaign after Spannerworks’ integration into the iCrossing brand in January 2008 – November 2008, following its earlier acquisition in February 2007.
Phase 1: The initial focus for the PR campaign was two-fold: firstly to build Spannerworks’ awareness and position it as the lead search marketing and social media specialist in Europe. Secondly to reposition digital as a strategic part of the marketing mix.
In 2006, digital was still viewed as the poor relation to traditional marketing, therefore a large part of the PR campaign was devoted to promoting digital, and specifically search marketing and social media, as an essential element of any brand’s marketing mix.
The focal point of phase one was the announcement of Spannerworks’ acquisition by iCrossing, which was revealed in February 2007 via an exclusive secured with the front page of the Sunday Times Business section, and subsequently backed up in relevant trade and online media.
The acquisition raised the PR campaign to focus on two brands, as Spannerworks kept its brand until January 2008, but operated under the iCrossing banner, meaning Liberate Media needed to develop both brands side-by-side.
To position the client accurately throughout this first phase, the PR team focused on media training and developing the profile and respect of the client’s key speakers. These individuals were the mouth piece of the brand and the face of the strategy, therefore it was essential that they were not only given the opportunity to communicate the key messages via relevant profile and news opportunities, but be seen to comment on the burning issues of the day.
Phase 2: The rebrand of Spannerworks to iCrossing UK in January 2008 represented the beginning of the second phase of the campaign. It also introduced a new challenge for the PR team in the form of expanded messaging and communications strategy to encompass iCrossingâ€™s global vision, while taking care not to lose traction on the campaign to date or alienate existing Spannerworksâ€™ clients.
To launch this new element, Liberate Media maximised the immediate news potential of the brand integration by introducing a new social media initiative â€“ the social media video release or SMVR. This gave iCrossing a platform to communicate directly with its community via a short video clip incorporating interactive click-through elements, confirming exactly why Spannerworks was rebranding, and what this meant to the market and its clients. The PR team recommended this strategy to differentiate and add power to the announcement, the impact of which had been lessened in importance due to the news of Spannerworks’ acquisition, which had broken a year earlier.
The launch of the SMVR increased interest in the announcement and it achieved over 900 views on its first day, going onto record more than 4500 views. The brand integration launch was also supported by a round of media briefings, which helped to raise iCrossingâ€™s UK awareness from near zero, to above that previously achieved for Spannerworks within six months of the phase two launch.
The subsequent rebrand communications campaign concentrated on repositioning iCrossing UK as a digital marketing agency. The objective was to communicate the clientâ€™s expanded service offering and convey its connected approach to delivering these as part of an over-arching global strategy.
To achieve this, Liberate Media highlighted the importance of differentiating the companyâ€™s approach through tangible evidence to convince industry commentators of its credentials to be a serious player in the expanded space. It also demanded the expansion of the spokesperson campaign, encompassing five new spokespeople who would offer insight on specific areas of the business or service offering. At this stage iCrossing UK was so convinced by the power of PR that it offered to double its investment, and dedicated a greater proportion of senior time to the campaign.
Furthermore, iCrossingâ€™s global reach was utilised as a key strength and central to its mission to make brands connected. This was communicated by educating target audiences in the clientâ€™s technology strength and innovative approach to integrated digital marketing campaigns.
Throughout this period, Liberate Media worked in partnership with both iCrossing in the UK and U.S. to deliver an internationally focused campaign.
Core objectives achieved:
- Positioned Spannerworks as leader in search marketing and social media marketing development, ready for acquisition
- Moved away from traditional search ROI messaging, to focus on wider digital marketing and branding discussions
- Championed digital as a core part of the marketing mix
- Positioned client as key industry commentator on a range of digital marketing subjects
- Introduced and built UK profile for iCrossing
- Raised the profile of, and media trained, key spokespeople
- Positioned Spannerworks, and later iCrossing, as a fast growing and successful global organisation
- Maximised awareness and coverage of Spannerworks’ acquisition and later integration into the iCrossing brand
Over 161 media interviews completed
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Broadcast including: BBC news and BBC Radio 4
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Nationals, including: FT, The Times, Sunday Times, The Independent and The Guardian
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Consistent trade coverage, including: NMA, Revolution, Marketing Week, Marketing and Media Week
Profile raising examples:
-Â Â Â Â UK CEO featured in Revolution Power 50 – 07 & 08
-Â Â Â Â Global CEO featured in Revolution’s 10th anniversary profile slot
-Â Â Â Â UK CCO profile featured in Media Week
-Â Â Â Â Company featured in FT’s merger markets
-Â Â Â Â Regular briefings with FT for U.S. CEO visits
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Â News focused – 45%
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Comment/interview – 32%
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Features based – 23%
Thought leadership examples:
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Google trademark policy
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Link buying
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Yahoo acquisition attempts
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Google Chrome launch
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Future of SEO and digital marketing
Award campaign examples:
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Entries for relevant industry, business and entrepreneur awards. Results included: finalists for NMA, Revolution, Travolution
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Entrepreneur awards: Ernst & Young entrepreneur of the year. Asian businessman of the year and National Business Awards
Why Liberate Media?
“Liberate Media has an in-depth understanding of the online marketing industry and the implications of the latest developments in social media. The team is able to challenge our assumptions and ideas with authority, leading to better strategic thinking about our communications.”
“To work well with a PR agency you need to be able to trust them. I trust Liberate Media to tell me how it is, to challenge me, to understand my industry and most importantly, to get the job done.”
Digital marketing experience:
â€¢ Search marketing – Greenlight, Spannerworks, iCrossing, mSearch (WPP’s search arm)
â€¢ Online advertising – AdLINK, AdJug, Associated Northcliffe Digital (AND – part of the Daily Mail Group Trust)
â€¢ Online video – ROO Media
â€¢ Creative digital marketing – Collective, de-construct, Kerb
â€¢ User Experience/analytics – Foviance