As weve now collectively dipped our toes into the seemingly pleasant waters of 2010, it seems as good a time as any for a dive back into our archives. All the way back to New Years Eve 2009…


Background

From humble beginnings – a monkey on the side of a road in 2005 holding up a sign
‘Ask Bongo anything’ – to being bought by Australian entrepreneur William Scott and his
Melbourne-based integrated communications company, CommQuest, in 2007. The Bongo Virus aims to bring together the most popular functions on the internet, including social networking, entertainment, music and gaming, into one integrated application online and via mobile phones.

Ask Bongo, the company’s text messaging service, has brought in more than $2 million profit alone. Compatible with over 70% of mobile phone devices, The Bongo Virus differs from its
forerunners, Facebook and MySpace, as participants have influence over to which charity 5% of the profits go and how they want the website designed.

William Scott, founder and CEO of CommQuest, endeavoured to bring The Bongo Virus to life by globally launching the project at a Sydney event on New Year’s Eve 2008, hosted by one of the world’s most recognised people, Paris Hilton.

Companies within the CommQuest group aligned to create a world-class event that would wow their audience on a global scale: Think Creative Events looked after the event creative and visit logistics, Next Digital took on the development of the website (www.thebongovirus.com), SMS Central handled the SMS delivery, MobiData the mobile application development and Smart Group the word of mouth campaign.

Smart PR ran the corporate brand building and, together with independent partner Identity PR, took on the media and VIP guest list management of The Bongo Virus and Paris Hilton.

Objectives

The Bongo Virus NYE launch event was created primarily to increase the awareness and brand recognition of the company and to saturate the market globally. It was also vital to increase the usage of The Bongo Virus and Ask Bongo offerings by successfully driving traffic to the website before and after the event. The event team was faced with the challenge of developing an event that was unique, visually appealing and creatively themed to tie in with The Bongo Virus brand. There was an emphasis on not only building hype and excitement around the launch event, but also driving ticket sales within the technologically savvy 18-34 targeted Gen Y market. While the immediate Australian focus was a clear objective, CommQuest also needed to ensure that there would be market interest on a global level. The aim was to bring the world’s attention to Sydney on New Year’s Eve and reach the international market through online event ticket sales to view the party streamed via the website.

Strategies

Understanding the power of a celebrity endorsed product, CommQuest approached Gen Y princess Paris Hilton to host the global launch event, with the intention that the world’s most identifiable celebrity was the most effective way to create worldwide hype and to maximise exposure. The appointment of Paris Hilton as the host of the event and also as the face of The Bongo Virus allowed for international attention of the brand and to generate extensive media focus. Hilton’s role was to excite and entertain the guests at the event, and to educate the public through the media at a press conference held the morning of the event. Think Creative Events, led by Antony Hampel, created the unique theme for the event venues, The Piano Room and Trademark Hotel, which were themed ‘urban voodoo versus modern jungle militia’.

In order to ensure the world was watching on the night, Next Digital was briefed to create a website available to millions across the globe to log on and watch the party stream live on their computer or their mobile phone for a small entry fee of US$3.50 (AU$5).

Execution

Prior to Paris Hilton’s arrival in Australia, an essential part of the PR campaign was to develop unique story angles and exclusive interview opportunities to introduce The Bongo Virus brand to an international market and to promote the special guest host, Paris Hilton. In the lead-up to the event, The Kyle and Jackie O Show on the Austereo network was granted an exclusive radio interview with Paris Hilton, which ran nationally as the ‘Paris Hour’ for the promotion of the global launch. The Sunday Telegraph received an exclusive print interview with Paris Hilton. It was imperative that constant marketing and publicity for the event, The Bongo Virus and Paris Hilton’s involvement were achieved. Key messages for the event and the product features were conveyed through various mediums, including viral marketing (including Facebook, Google AdWords
and word of mouth messaging), a partnership with Austereo, street posters displayed throughout Sydney and ticket giveaways through the Hot 30 Countdown, Nova 969, the Sunday Telegraph, Grazia magazine, Alive magazine and Sunday Mail. The morning of New Year’s Eve began with a press conference held at the Sheraton on the Park where Kyle Sandilands and Paris Hilton informed Sydney media of the basis of her visit. Positioning Hilton against The Bongo Virus backdrop and photographing her with ‘Bongo’ the monkey mascot contributed to solidifying the message that she was here to promote a brand and not just visiting Sydney to party for NYE. A strong Australian celebrity guest list at the event confirmed the Gen Y focus, which included The Veronicas, Stephanie Rice, Ruby Rose and Wayne Cooper. Paparazzi, radio and TV media assembled outside and excited fans waited to catch a glimpse of the anticipated host, Paris Hilton, and her sister Nicky Hilton. Inside the venue, live streaming began and fans over the world started to view the launch of The Bongo Virus.

Results

  • $10 million in advertising value: 2625 print, online, radio and TV press mentions
  • 35 million people reached
  • Both venues at full capacity
  • During month of event, web traffic increased 10 fold
  • During month of event, SMS volume up 41% year-on-year, and
  • Established a community of one million.