Once upon a time, the VCR was the top dog of home consumer electronics for on-demand video. Everybody knew there had to be a better solution for being able to “watch what you want, when you wanted to.” Consumers were wed to the nightly network television schedule. Past failures of “on-demand TV” influenced the media and industry analyst communities. The concept of “time shifting” – watching primetime shows out of primetime – was unheard of and frightening to networks, advertisers and content partners. Along came a start-up named TiVo. It presented our team with the opportunity to introduce the future of television, make the television networks comfortable with a forthcoming sea of change, establish the concept of the Digital Video Recorder (DVR) with consumers and consumer electronics manufacturers and make TiVo a household name. Oh, and they let us know that the TiVo DVR wouldn’t be demonstrable for at least 12 months, so they wanted us to do this with only a PowerPoint. Good luck!
Communicating to the TV networks, CE manufacturers and consumers all at the same time with dramatically different concerns and messages was going to require more than a one-size-fits-all endeavor. From the network and CE perspectives, billions of future dollars were riding on making these different yet synergistic audiences feel comfortable enough to engage and partner with TiVo. From the consumer perspective, “new” is wonderful for some. For those who could not set the microwave clock properly, however, replacing the VCR was downright scary.
In the days before the internet was The Internet, traditional communications was the primary channel to reach those frustrated with the 500-channel universe, as well as those who provided it, with content. We felt strongly that the TV ecosystem would have to first get on board and then communications could be extended to the consumer. So we developed a strategic, cascading communications approach to tell and retell the TiVo storyline in a stratified and ever-evolving fashion to first calm and then excite different audiences and media categories. This was powered by “programs within a program” – each geared toward educating each stakeholder on the benefits of DVR to their bottom line. As we would have to sell the future to make the company and DVR concept “real” to disbelievers, we also created one of the first industry influencers – a handpicked, emerging analyst who could speak to the forthcoming convergence. This influencer would be given broader access to all things TiVo as an accelerant to his career and TiVo’s market presence.
- Demonstrable positive bottom-line business impact for TiVo with networks, consumer-electronics partners and other required stakeholders
- Significant inroads and allayed concerns with networks leading to tangible partnerships
- First-mover status in market and a victorious mindshare battle with competitor Replay TV
- Nearly two years of major ongoing mass media coverage in numerous categories, ranging from national business (Wall Street Journal, USA Today, BusinessWeek) to network television (CNN) to lifestyle (GQ, Playboy, Rolling Stone) and publications serving the entertainment industry
- “Suspension of disbelief” from influencers with virtually zero negative coverage
- Creation of a cadre of external influencers who opened doors to business partnerships
- TiVo became a “verb” in popular culture