Paul Holmes 17 Apr 2001 // 11:00PM GMT
Is the Razor scooter a toy, a sporting goods product, transportation, a dot communist’s (not so cheap) thrill, or a fashion accessory? All of the above. Razor scooters, well scooted, onto the urban scene in early 2000. Our business objective for year one was to drive sales. Our communications objective was to begin to build a brand for Razor. Our creative approach lay not in what we did, but in what we didn’t do.
Scooters were hard to pigeonhole from a demographic perspective. How do you market to “them” when you don’t know who “they” are?
$99-$199 is quite a chunk of change for a few pieces of aluminum.
There were dozens of manufacturers; legitimate and counterfeit.
Marketing to kids is a lie.
Let the product find its customer. We worked hard to broadly position Razor as hip among college students, kids, celebs, Wall Streeters, techies.
Unless we were talking safety, we never spoke directly to kids and never referred to the Razor a “toy,” except for the purpose of this entry!) We knew that would kill Razor’s coolness factor with kids.
We said no. A lot. Part of the brand’s success in 2000 lay more in what we said no to, than what we said yes to. We said yes to Drew Barrymore, Sex & the City, Letterman and “Just Jack.” No to the presidential candidates, Disneyland, Regis and Baywatch. Sometimes it was hard to say no - especially for crowd-pleasing p.r. types. But we lived the strategy.
Brand Counsel - Our clients at Razor USA are extraordinarily entrepreneurial, eager for counsel across many disciplines and huge believers in the power of PR when building a brand. They brought us to the table to discuss the communications implications of everything; from possible litigation, to line extensions, to their distribution channels.
Media Relations - We targeted fashion, retail, lifestyle, parenting (on the safety issue), extreme sports and business reporters at the most directional print, broadcast and online media. We also talked to top fashion photographers and stylists, offering product for their shoots w/A-listers. We worked with influencer analysts.
Product Placement - We killed ourselves getting product directly into the hands of ultrahip celebs. We prostrated ourselves before the producers of the Emmys, the Golden Globes, the VH1 Fashion Awards and the Oscars. We were in touch w/the coolest TV shows, urging them to include our product visually, or as part of plot lines. We made up special scooters that sported a giant gold ribbon and took them to events during the SAG strike. Cool actors like David Hyde-Pierce (Frasier) jumped on and the paparazzi had a field day.
Litigation Support – We vigorously supported our client’s efforts in the courts to secure and protect their patent and to fight counterfeiting – thereby enhancing and protecting their brand.
In the midst of all the drinking champagne out of slippers, reports of scooter injuries began to surface. Our client sincerely felt that “safety was not the consumer’s #1 concern so it has to be ours.” We immediately implemented a proactive (and tremendously well-received) safety campaign urging the use of appropriate protective gear, etc. We wrote a safety brochure, got it on the web site, did a safety-themed VNR that got extensive pick-up, and are in the process of coordinating a mailing to the membership of the American Academy of Pediatrics offering physicians free safety information to distribute to their young patients.
Razor USA sold 5 million scooters in 2000 and the company enjoys an estimated 65% market. Razor scooters appeared on just about every retailer/holiday pundit’s “top gifts” list @ position #1 or #2 and in numerous “Product of the Year” end of the millennium wrap-ups.
Razor USA was issued a patent in early November and subsequently received two Restraint of Trade rulings against the manufacturers named in the patent lawsuits.
There were no regulatory blows leveled @ Razor from a safety perspective. In fact, many consumer groups used Razor as a positive example of proactive safety communication.
By year-end, it is safe to say that “Razor” became the “Kleenex” of scooters, both from a sales and a communications perspective.