PR case study: How F-Secure cashed in on your thirst for Wi-Fi

Posted on: 2014-11-12   |   Tagged: b2b pr case study case study pr case study

You can get away with a lot if your campaign is relevant to your target audience, says Lauren Mason (@laurenkmason), content marketing specialist at TopLine Comms, in this month’s PR case study.

We see an awful lot of dull, uninspiring campaigns here at the B2B PR Blog. It’s all you can do to keep your spirits up at times. But then a campaign surprises you, makes you laugh a little bit harder than you were expecting, and your faith in B2B marketers is miraculously restored.

For this month’s case study, I decided to delve a little deeper into one such campaign: F-Secure’s “Herod clause”.

Who are F-Secure?

F-Secure provide cloud-based computer security software to homes and businesses. They were established in 1988 in Finland, and pride themselves on their sisu (which loosely translates as an innate gutsiness or determination) – a trait this campaign exploits rather well.

What did they do?

This campaign’s genius is in its simplicity. F-Secure sponsored an experiment by a group of security researchers, who were backed by the law enforcement agency Europol, to set up free Wi-Fi hotspots in central London locations.

In order to use the Wi-Fi, people had to agree to certain terms and conditions. These included one in which Wi-Fi users agreed “to assign their firstborn child to us for the duration of eternity”.

With the hotspots activated, they just waited for people to sign up.

Six firstborns later, the experiment switched to remove the Herod clause. Using an incredibly basic setup, the researchers were able to access important personal information such as e-mail passwords in plain text.

Why did they do it?

F-Secure wanted to show how willing the general public are to do anything to access free Wi-Fi. In doing so, they highlighted the lack of knowledge about the risks associated with connecting to unknown hotspots.

As providers of internet security software for PCs, tablets and smartphones, this had the knock-on effect of boosting awareness of their brand. Which can’t have hurt their lead generation (we’d be interested to hear more about this!).

What were the results?

The experiment was covered by The Guardian, Daily Mail, The Mirror, Time, Yahoo News, Metro and LBC to name just a few of its biggest hits. The Guardian’s article alone was tweeted 1,600 times.

Happily, F-Secure have since confirmed that they won’t be enforcing the Herod clause.

What can other B2B marketers learn from F-Secure’s campaign?

Stunts attract attention! But for them to gain the most traction and work for your business, they need to be relevant.

F-Secure’s experiment worked because it threw light on a problem that they’re able to solve with their products and expertise. The dark humour of the campaign is a good fit with the company’s self-identified drop of “Finnish craziness”, too. Because of these factors, their risk paid off.

Stunts for the sake of stunts just don’t work, so there’s no point in wasting your resources trying to attract media attention with something badly thought through. Try thinking about what makes your brand different and where your expertise lies when you’re planning a campaign – it’s far more likely to cut through the noise and reach your target audience.

And always, always practise safe surfing.

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About this blog

The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog was founded by B2B PR specialist Heather Baker, who runs video production and corporate animation agency TopLine Film and digital PR and SEO agency  TopLine Comms. The B2B PR Blog takes contributions from sensible industry folk with something interesting to say.


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