From the day they are founded, there are several key milestones startups strive to hit throughout their lifetime – from their official launch and raising capital to major product releases and customer announcements.
For longtime client Affectiva, the March team has been fortunate enough to be by their side for several of these moments, like the company’s Series B funding and 10th anniversary. Most recently, we had the opportunity to be a part of Affectiva’s acquisition by Smart Eye, the global leader in interior sensing AI.
While this was an acquisition on paper, the two teams saw it as more of a merger: As two industry leaders in their own right, Boston-based Affectiva and Sweden-based Smart Eye were coming together to create a new, more powerful company to accelerate the growth and development of the automotive Interior Sensing market, as well as the Media Analytics and Research markets. So, when it came time to plan and execute a PR and comms campaign to announce the merger, the effort was driven by close collaboration between Smart Eye, Affectiva and our team at March.
Planning & Strategy
When strategizing and planning the announcement, one of the biggest considerations was the messaging. We needed to nail down the story and the positioning around why the companies were joining forces, as that narrative would guide everything we would do – from internal and external comms to the CEOs’ talk tracks. Leaders from Smart Eye, Affectiva and March came together to brainstorm why this announcement would be significant for the AI industry, and the value and opportunities it would provide its teams and stakeholders.
In the end, we landed on a message that highlighted why this acquisition was a mutual fit, the companies’ shared vision and the opportunities in their key business areas of automotive and media analytics. We also worked closely with Smart Eye and Affectiva to build out an FAQ to help anticipate any questions that might have arisen from both media and other stakeholders.
Next we developed an execution plan. This included a press release to complement the financial guidance that Smart Eye would have to issue announcing the acquisition news. The March team, with input from Smart Eye and Affectiva, also thought about the media strategy and crafted different pitch angles that would be targeted toward a number of reporters across verticals including AI, investor press, automotive, media analytics/research, tech, and business.
As much as we wanted to pre-pitch the news, we had to wait until the day-of, when the agreement was officially signed. That meant we couldn’t pitch until Tuesday, May 25. As media opportunities were secured, the teams decided which executive – Smart Eye’s Founder and CEO Martin Krantz, or Affectiva’s co-founder and CEO Rana el Kaliouby (now Deputy CEO of Smart Eye) – would make the most sense as the spokesperson. For example, Rana handled the majority of the Boston-based opportunities, Martin spoke with the Swedish press, and the two tag-teamed the business, tech and automotive media.
With pitching efforts focused on day-of, the team knew we needed a plan to extend the conversation beyond the official announcement day. As a result, we collaborated on an external content plan made up of bylined articles on key themes and a social promotion plan for both companies that Affectiva would execute on as well.
Since the announcement went live, our campaign results show that the media and the market are just as excited about this acquisition as we are. Top results have included 76 pieces of coverage with top tier press such as TechCrunch, Fortune, ZDNet and more. Rana and Martin also had a combined 7 interviews with publications including Automotive World, Boston Business Journal and Digital Trends. The team has also drafted a byline on the evolution of Interior Sensing which is being pitched to automotive publications to continue the momentum beyond the launch.
While the acquisition was officially completed on Wednesday, June 23, the conversations we had around telling the acquisition story continue to be relevant as we look toward what’s next: building awareness of the combined company and its vision. As for the March team, we are excited to be along for the ride and can’t wait to see what this next chapter in Affectiva’s journey brings – congrats Affectiva and Smart Eye teams!