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Party with a Cause does double duty: faced with declining brand awareness among a key segment, Si.mobil set out to reclaim its place in the market.

When Si.mobil entered the mobile communications market in Slovenia in 1999, the state-owned provider, Mobitel, had a virtual monopoly. Within 10 years, however, Si.mobil had achieved 28.2 percent of market share, due in large part to its focus on mobile phone users aged 12 to 31--a group not well targeted by Si.mobil's competitors. Si.mobil even created a sub-brand, ORTO, to strategically target the youth audience.

To build brand awareness and loyalty among this group, in 2004 Si.mobil organized Party with a Cause, a charity concert featuring local artists that encouraged attenders to make donations to youth causes. Slovenian youth do not generally donate to charity, and no Slovenian humanitarian organization focuses specifically on youth issues. Party with a Cause aimed to increase the sense of social responsibility among young people in an appealing way--through music.

Party with a Cause was so successful that it has been held annually since 2004, collecting 86,971 [euro] for youth-related charities. Since 2006, funds have been donated to Beli obroc Slovenije (The White Circle of Slovenia), whose main goal is to provide efficient legal and psychosocial therapy to young victims of criminal offenses, primarily violent crime. In 2008, the fifth Party with a Cause attracted a record 30,000 people and raised 13,690 [euro] for Beli obroc.

Si.mobil recognized that young people are frequent mobile users; therefore, collecting donations via SMS (short message service) is the most suitable, effective and affordable way for them to participate. The company offers its service to collect donations through SMS (1 SMS = [euro]1).

However, in 2009, market research showed that loyalty, brand awareness and brand preference for Si.mobil were decreasing among young people. Specifically, the research showed slightly lower results at spontaneous recall of Si.mobil as the initiator and organizer of Party with a Cause. What's more, correct recognition of the event's purpose (donation to Beli obroc) decreased from 85 percent in 2007 to 73 percent in 2008. With that in mind, Si.mobil determined that its sponsorship, as well as the vision and mission of Party with a Cause, should be more carefully communicated.

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An additional challenge leading up to the 2009 event was the announcement of two other free concerts--both organized by competing mobile operators--just before and after Party with a Cause. So, for its sixth annual event, Si.mobil endeavored to promote Party with a Cause as the only large charity event for youth and to reestablish recognition of the event's purpose.

Goals and objectives

For the 2009 Party with a Cause, Si.mobil set the following goals and objectives:

Promotion: To promote Party with a Cause as the only large charity music event for youth, organized by Si.mobil.

Objective No. 1: To increase attendance at the event by 30 percent over the previous year (30,000).

Objective No. 2: To attract at least 2,000 fans to the Party with a Cause Facebook page.

Objective No. 3: To gain 20 percent more media reports compared with the previous year (64).

Brand: To raise awareness of and preference for the Si.mobil brand and increase the loyalty of Si.mobil users among the youth segment.

Objective No. 4: To raise or at least preserve brand awareness in the youth segment.

Objective No. 5: To raise or at least preserve brand preference in the youth segment.

Objective No. 6: To raise or at least preserve loyalty among Si.mobil users.

Fundraising: To more intensively underscore Party with a Cause's charity character, and to clarify and increase understanding of its purpose (raising funds for Bell obroc).

Objective No. 7: To increase recognition of the purpose of the event to 85 percent.

Objective No. 8: To raise at least 50 percent more funds for Bell obroc.

Solution and implementation

Si.mobil decided to stress the key characteristics of Party with a Cause: tradition, charity through SMS donations, and domestic artists. To make the event as effective as possible, the Si.mobil team implemented the following tactics:

* Define key messages: (1) Si.mobil's Party with a Cause enables you to help your peers. (2) Join Si.mobil in being socially responsible. (3) Entrance fee = SMS donation of 1 [euro].

* Be transparent: The amount of funds collected was continuously communicated during and after the event on the Party with a Cause landing page on the Si.mobil web site.

* Prolong communication and emphasize the charity aspect of the event: The money raised during the 2009 event went toward the opening of the first Friendly Shelter--a welcoming place for young victims of criminal offenses--in Ljubljana, three months after Party with a Cause. Beli obroc aims to open a number of Friendly Shelters around the country. Highlighting the shelter opening allowed the team to prolong communication and emphasize the purpose of the event.

* Add new activities to raise funds at the event: These included selling gadgets at Si.mobil's ORTO shop, and selling 10 [euro] drink donation coupons and "Violence is out" donation badges in the VIP room for business partners, event sponsors and the media.

* Intensively use social media: Avenues included a Party with a Cause page on Facebook, an online community on the Si.mobil site and an ORTO profile on Facebook.

* Integrate communication: Comprehensive media relations, advertising and promotional activities were conducted. Rather than using media buys, all advertising was based on partner agreements with media.

* Enlist partners, including Samsung; media partners Europlakat, Eclipse, MediaBus, Fini oglasi (for outdoor advertising), the major commercial television station POP TV, and Cosmopolitan magazine; Najdi.si (the most popular Slovenian search engine); and 38 other smaller media partners.

The biggest challenge to the event was Mother Nature. For the first time in six years, Party with a Cause faced bad weather. To counteract this, Si.mobil decided to stream video of the event live in case the rain kept people away.

Measurement and evaluation

Objective No. 1: To increase event attendance by 30 percent over the previous year (30,000).

Outcome: Although it rained heavily during most of the concert, about 10,000 people attended. There were also 16,687 unique hits and 82,960 hits for all streaming video.

Objective No. 2: To attract at least 2,000 fans to the Party with a Cause Facebook page.

Outcome: Party with a Cause had 13,896 fans on Facebook as of 2 January 2010, and continues to grow.

Objective No. 3: To gain 20 percent more media reports compared with 2008.

Outcome: Media coverage before, during and after the event reached 103 reports, a 61 percent increase.

Objective 4: To raise or at least preserve awareness in the youth segment of the Si.mobil brand.

Outcome: Brand awareness increased 1.7 percentage points.

Objective S: To raise or at least preserve brand preference in the youth segment.

Outcome: Brand preference increased 3.1 percentage points.

Objective 6: To raise or at least preserve the loyalty of Si.mobil users.

Outcome: Loyalty among Si.mobil users increased 3.9 percentage points.

Objective No. 7: To increase recognition of the purpose of the event to 85 percent.

Outcome: 89 percent of attenders knew what the purpose of the event was.

Objective No. 8: To raise at least 50 percent more funds for Beli obroc.

Outcome: Si.mobil collected 30,146.42 [euro], more than twice what was raised in 2008.

Party with a Cause has earned the reputation of being a major music event for youth. It gained positive mentions from the media: 83 journalists attended, and coverage was 100 percent positive.

Tamara Valencic is corporate communication/HR director for Si.mobil d.d., in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
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Title Annotation:case in point
Author:Valencic, Tamara
Publication:Communication World
Geographic Code:4EXSL
Date:Jan 1, 2011
Words:1276
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