CAMPAIGN OF THE MONTH: Webex kicks-off a new ball game

Web conferencing market leader, Cisco Webex, started the ball rolling for its summer campaign that centres on a new microsite, 'Pass the ball', to reinforce its brand appeal. The message focuses on how sharing ideas can make a difference in the world, both in business and elsewhere, and targets 22-32-year-old professionals with online collaboration needs through key social media networks, ie. Facebook and Twitter. The integrated campaign was accompanied by outdoor launches in the UK, US, Germany and France to drive the Webex brand and encourage demand for the product.

 

Optimising word-of–mouth

The campaign microsite – www.passtheball.com – is a Webex online community for professionals to share their bright ideas on how they would improve different areas of life – from the arts to personal development and business. Microsite users will be asked to rate and rank the collaboration ideas suggested, and the provider of the best idea will receive a year's free usage of Webex's services. As an incentive for users to contribute ideas, Webex has undertaken to sponsor a teacher in in the developing world, via the Teachers Without Borders programme, for every 100 ideas submitted.

To drive interest in the microsite, Webex adopted social media to optimise its word-of-mouth capability. Facebook was used to develop a community around the microsite and, on Twitter, tweets were made on practical Webex content and some of the 'Pass the ball' ideas, says June Bower, US vice president of marketing for Cisco Webex's technology group. Further demonstrations were carried out by YouTube. “This is to create levels in involvement so wherever they are, they can comment [on ideas placed on microsite] or take steps for developing ideas,” she explains.

The campaign was developed following research by Webex to understand which professionals were most likely to be influenced. According to Bower, the research revealed a commonality of enjoying being socially active online, a preference for communities and connecting online, a willingness to try new technology and eagerness to share ideas.

“We thought let's create a campaign based on how they like to communicate,” she says. “Therefore we used social media and word-of-mouth to create an incredible viral campaign using a reasonable amount of money.” With over 62 countries already downloading the Webex Meeting Centre iPhone application, the company has been able to keep a steady appeal to the tech and younger market.

London Underground was selected as an obvious platform for campaign launch media because of its intensive usage by the target audience. On May 27, rush hour commuters at Victoria Underground station were greeted by a 3D seven-foot ball. The structure took a 'Big Brother' diary room theme where participants were filmed sharing their ideas for the 'Pass the Ball' microsite, explains Alex Brayshaw, director of DNX. Posters were plastered on digital escalator panels in nine tube stations, including Waterloo, Liverpool and Embankment. 'Pass the ball' was also promoted by ads in The Metro as well as online ads such as Wallpaper, LinkedIn, Yahoo and MSN.

A PR campaign based on SME research ran alongside the UK launch. PR agency Brands2life surveyed 500 employees and 250 owner managers on the recession and its impact on changing the way people interact, share ideas and work together. The research findings were subsequently released to the media.

 

New campaign model

The campaign marks a shift in emphasis from the traditional campaign communications. Bower comments that in the digital communications industry, competitors carry similar messages that prompt business delegates to skip business travel and meet online instead. But, inspired by Obama's highly effective use of social media in his election campaign, Webex decided to embrace this emerging form of marketing.

According to Bower, 'Pass the ball' will run for six months before it is reappraised in the autumn. Various metrics will be used to gauge success, including view rates, response rates and membership rates.