The previous Top 10 public relations agency had not been able to generate significant public relations exposure relative to Safeway Gift Cards (now Blackhawk Network). Coverage on the category was spotty at best with significant negative exposure about the supposed lack of “personalization” that gift cards represent and the issues of cost of the card and, in some cases, usage fees. The category was just emerging with the preconceived notion that the only way to purchase a gift card was to go to the retailer rather than a centralized repository of many high-end cards. There were no customized programs to take advantage of holidays and special occasions.
- Blackhawk wanted to establish their Gift Card Mall as the destination of choice with the best selection as well as convenience.
- Blackhawk embraced the notion that an outside spokesperson offered significant advantages over an internal executive.
- Blackhawk and the agency developed a honed campaign that would resonate with consumers for Valentine’s Day, Mothers and Fathers Day, Back-To-School and the Holidays.
- Blackhawk’s aspiration was to become the global thought and gift card leader and innovator.
- The key was to bring a piece of “plastic” to life by bringing in the emotional factor of how the card can bring happiness and fulfillment to the recipient.
- Initially, we utilized a gift-giving expert to talk about holiday and special occasion with products and services from participating retailers including
- Nordstrom; Bed Bath & Beyond; Borders; and Marriott Hotels, for example. This communicated the lifestyle experiences that gift cards offered without any concern about style, color, size or other factors that can put a damper on a well-intentioned gift.
- Ongoing research over the first four years demonstrated the growing acceptance and desire for gift cards as opposed to more “traditional” gifts like ties, shirts, cookbooks and towels.
- Demonstrated the “human” factor of how gift cards can change people’s lives by working with such shows as Live with Regis & Kelly and Good Morning America, to provide gift cards that help needy people make a significant change in their lives.
- The public relations program grew exponentially over the first four years mirroring the growth of Blackhawk Network which has become a $2 billion company.
- The deployment of a gift-giving and lifestyle expert dramatically increased the quality and quantity of television coverage averaging more than 25 broadcast appearances annually with a viewership in excess of 75 million per annum.
- The distribution network grew to more than 80,000 storefronts including many non-competitive supermarket, convenience and drug store chains throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. A number of the larger participants took an active involvement in the public relations campaign.