Client Spotlight: Paving the Way for Affectiva’s Entry into the Automotive Industry

Hailey Melamut, Nov 29 2018

categories: PR

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One of our core values at March is to “be brave.” Whether we’re taking a new, innovative approach to a campaign, or counseling clients to push the boundaries of their messaging and marketing strategy, we strive to be bold and brave in our work. And, we love partnering with brands who share that ambition.

When thinking about bravery and boldness, one of the clients that quickly comes to mind is Affectiva. For those not familiar, Affectiva is an artificial intelligence (AI) startup that’s renowned as a pioneer in the applications of emotion technology across fields such as healthcare, advertising, market research and social robotics. Despite being a startup, Affectiva’s work with 1,400 brands – including 25 percent of the Global Fortune 500 – has allowed them to punch above their weight class, earning notoriety and a significant amount of tier-one press coverage in titles like New York Magazine, Fortune, Forbes, WIRED and CBS News.

But Affectiva’s bravery really came into play this past year, when the company decided to break into an entirely new industry: automotive. If you’ve been paying attention to the news (or anything Elon Musk has to say), you’ll know that the auto industry is ripe for disruption – especially as self-driving cars come to the fore. Affectiva knew its human perception AI could help address safety concerns, and improve the overall transportation experience in (semi)-autonomous cars.

March had an exciting role to play in Affectiva’s evolution towards auto, as PR would be a key tactic in validating the company’s potential amongst competitors, prospects and investors. But given that this was an entirely new space to Affectiva – one where we did not yet have publicly referenceable use cases, clear messaging, or any awareness amongst auto industry influencers – we knew we’d need to take a slow and carefully calculated approach to build recognition over time.

We were able to work closely with the team at Affectiva to devise a multi-stage launch strategy – one that we all agreed should be about more than just a product launch. Months before any automotive activity kicked off from a product or marketing perspective, we sat down as a collective team to go over research and insights work we’d done, and lay out different ideas that would give us an ongoing pipeline of activities and milestones to show momentum over time.

The following months were a whirlwind of different strategies and tactics, each one building on the last: first, seeding our automotive narrative with influencers even before the launch, through thought leadership pitches and bylines. Next, formally announcing Affectiva’s first automotive product, and using industry events as a platform to promote the product. Later, storyboarding and producing a video to show the technology in action, and pitching that b-roll for broadcast segments in Boston and beyond. We even offered “test drives” to reporters in a road-ready car, with Affectiva’s auto demos built in.

The slow-roll approach to launch may not have been typical, but it’s paid off. The campaign has resulted in 100+ pieces of coverage to date, a significant spike in visibility amongst competitors, partners and prospects, and most importantly, has set the stage for the company’s next stage of growth, beyond just marketing and comms – more to come on that in future Affectiva announcements!

We recently achieved an exciting milestone, as Affectiva was recognized as a Top Ten Automotive Startup in an awards program earlier this month (congrats, guys!) But what’s really exciting is that there’s so much more to come, as we’ve built the foundation for a campaign that will continue to evolve as Affectiva takes on automotive. We’re proud of our partnership, and look forward to coming along for the rest of the ride!

If this sounds like the kind of campaign you’d like to do for your company’s next big or brave endeavor, get in touch with us.

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