The DNA of successful PR and marketing strategy

I’m fascinated by communications strategy.  I spend hours looking at what makes a strategy work – and what makes it fail.  As part of the work I’ve done to develop The Lean Communications Framework, I’ve been looking at the component parts of some well known – and successful – PR and marketing strategies.  

In this post I share with you the key elements of Apple’s iPod launch strategy, Volkswagen’s ‘Drivers Wanted’ campaign, Maserati’s Ghibli launch communications, ‘Now We Strike’ and one of the most famous campaigns of all time – Apple’s ‘think different’.

The first element of any successful PR and marketing strategy is to ensure you build, or have built, strong relationships with the right people.  I’ve created a canvas showing the starting point for each campaign – breaking out the key relationships, mutual benefit, timing and conversation mechanism. 


Apple’s ‘iPod’ launch strategy

“1000 songs in your pocket” was the tagline used by Apple for the launch of its digital music player.  It was also a term that was used in media reports.  Apple wanted to tell music lovers that they could now take their entire collections with them wherever they went.  Although iPod has become a mainstream product it was originally positioned to be a product for the power user.

Volkswagen’s ‘Drivers Wanted’ strategy

Volkswagen isn’t just a car maker – it’s a club.  The vehicles that the company produces are membership cards, with the crest being the round VW badge on the hood.  VW’s campaign was, effectively, a membership drive to sign up new members to the club.  They hoped that people would aspire to the lifestyle that other VW drivers benefited from as members of the club.

Maserati’s ‘Now We Strike’ Strategy

Maserati’s ‘Now We Strike’ campaign is brilliant.  On its face, it’s a spot for a new luxury sports car with Italian heritage.  If you understand the history of the company in North America it was a public apology to former owners in the hope that they would give the company a second chance.

You can read more about my breakdown of this brilliant campaign here

Apple’s ‘think different’ strategy

‘think different’ is credited as being the catalyst for the company that Apple has become in the last 20 years.  It was Steve Jobs’s first campaign after returning to the company – but the specific details are not widely known.  ‘think different’ wasn’t designed to communicate with customers – it’s intended audience was Apple employees. 

The campaign is a plea to the company’s most talented engineers with the aim of keeping them in Cupertino long enough to enable Jobs to turn around Apple’s fortunes.  He realized that without it’s core talent the company had no chance, and ‘think different’ was about reinforcing the core values which were the reason many had joined the company.  It worked.  The rest is, as they say, history.