Bringing The Internet To the Masses

The Situation

For many years, the challenge of bringing the “Internet to the Masses” was viewed with enthusiasm as well as suspicion: would consumers be amenable to view the World Wide Web away from their computer? WebTV Networks, the first company to offer Internet access, through television, required proper positioning and sell-through in the technology and online service arenas. The business model was viewed as not a viable business by some major companies already entrenched in the traditional Internet access model that had a vested interest in WebTV’s failure.

The Goals

  • Brand WebTV as a simple, easy, inexpensive and VIABLE way to get internet on your universal communications device—the television.
  • Establish the company’s leadership by making WebTV synonymous with Internet on TV, thereby demonstrating the need for the service and create the category.
  • Achieve widespread positive and evangelical coverage across consumer, business, tech and trade media.
  • Utilize the company’s Web site to intrigue and inform consumers, educate media and drive purchase interest.
  • Provide momentum for the partners’ exit strategy.

The Solution

  • High profile launch in New York City attracted more than 100 media and more than 200 VIP’s in a massive series of living room environments with celebrities demonstrating specific category points of interest.
  • Guerilla marketing created the “buzz” including building illuminations, street marketers and Web site activities.
  • Reviewer program put WebTV in the hands of sequential influencers.
  • Media tours educated press and consumers. “Rolling Thunder” announcements kept WebTV in the news both online and offline.
  • Interviews, speaking opps and by-lined articles kept the founders front and center among all influencers.

The Results

  • The comprehensive campaign drove competition from the marketplace.
  • The founders achieved their exit strategy in less than two years with its sale to Microsoft for more than $345 million.
  • WebTV successfully launched Internet TV category; branded as leader and established proof of concept.
  • “Rolling Thunder” kept WebTV top-of-mind with massive coverage in BusinessWeek, Newsweek, People, USA Today, Rolling Stone and all four networks… The launch was lauded as the second most talked about story in the country, according to Ad Age.

Work Samples

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Phone: 310.849-5573

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We brought Steve onboard to help us define our position in the marketplace and provide a marketing strategy to take us to the next level. He performed a comprehensive audit of our senior staff, board members and other key parties to provide a positioning for our business model, searched for a branding agency overseeing all elements of the RFP, and conducted an advertising agency resource review with equal skill and professionalism. He handled these challenging tasks with enthusiasm and efficiency that made our senior staff’s time effective throughout this process. Following the completion of the branding and advertising searches, Steve supervised a number of other marketing programs including a public relations outreach which resulted in highly positive exposure in USA Today, CNNRadio, ABC television, CBS Marketwatch and many more placements for our new brand. He has become an important part of our team and I would recommend him without reservation as a professional who is a quick study, able to drive a marketing campaign to successful goals and is focused on providing tangible ROI for his clients.
Gary Brahm, Chancellor & CEO, Brandman University, part of the Chapman University System, Former EVP & COO, Chapman University
Articulating the broad-based philosophy and passion of the founders of a truly revered product requires a skill set that is much more strategic and complex than a traditional marketing campaign. Steve Smith and his team were selected to craft and implement just such a program for Cakebread Cellars which would persuasively convey the family’s commitment to community, education and the joy of wine and food. The quality and demand for their premium wine was the foundation for communicating the Cakebread’s ideals and values to a high end audience through a flow of ‘backend’ stories by top-tier media and through proprietary events. This included the American Harvest Workshop, which brings together leading chefs and journalists and Cakebread U, which provides a three-day educational program for students from leading universities about the world of wine. The agency focused on the most powerful non-wine press continuing to build on brand cache and the vision of the founders. There aren’t many agencies that get it but Smith PR does.
Cathleen Burke Visscher, Founder, Wine Works & Co., Former senior vice president and director of corporate development at Kobrand Corp., a leading high end wine and spirits company with interests in California, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and more