We dissect how we took a straightforward concept and turned it into the most successful digital PR campaign Ann Summers has ever had

The problem

Ann Summers has been a household name in lingerie and sex toys since the company’s inception in 1972, but by early 2018, the brand was facing a fierce marketplace.

The rise of “fast fashion” afforded by a primarily online shopping landscape meant that competition was more fierce than ever before. Shoppers cared less about brand heritage; instead, their priorities were on getting a bargain. While Ann Summers was doing a great job of keeping up with the competition, they wanted to remind everyone that they were the sexual innovation experts and needed our help to spread their brand message.

Our mission

Ann Summers knew that to retain their position at the top of an ever-evolving market, they needed to reconnect with their customers and attract a new generation of brand advocates.

To do so, we worked alongside Ann Summers to produce a PR campaign that would re-establish them as an authority on female pleasure and empowerment.

The campaign would need to tackle taboos to generate coverage in major online publications and engage a wide audience on social media — that much was clear to us.

But it had to be playful, too: it needed to capture that flirtatious tone that Ann Summers had made themselves famous for.

This was an ambitious project — but not one that we were about to shy away from.

Our approach

Our first step was to look at previous campaigns that were successful.

One campaign, in particular, stood out to us: an insight piece for National Orgasm Day. This piece went behind the scenes to reveal the disparities between the number of women that fake orgasms compared with men. It was exciting enough to get us national coverage in The Express, The Huffington Post and The Sun.

Next, we analysed the Ann Summers website itself to identify what types of content customers were hungry for. Our analytics data revealed a key trend: the content that users engaged with the most, across a number of different metrics, were posts that discussed sex positions and provided tips to help make sex as pleasurable as possible.

By combining these two successful pieces of content, we could create something that would generate the coverage we wanted while also capturing the imagination of a widespread audience.

Creating the campaign

As with the National Orgasm Day piece, we identified an upcoming awareness period with which to link our campaign. Naturally, we fixed our eyes on Couples Appreciation Month, which would last throughout April.

We then incorporated the sex position theme that had proved so popular with Ann Summers customers to create our final concept: The 30 Day Sex Position Challenge.

For each day in April (a.k.a. Couples Appreciation Month), we provided a new sex position that readers could try out with their partners.

We fully embraced the fun, liberated tone of voice that the Ann Summers brand promoted, using tongue-in-cheek position names that ranged from “The Shard” to “The Butter Churner”. And to keep things ‘safe for work’ (and reader-friendly to mainstream publications), we used wooden dolls to create visual representations of each position.

Promotion

We got the ball rolling by inviting people to take part in the challenge by:

  • Syndicating a press release to prolific online media publications
  • Scheduling daily posts to boost engagement across Ann Summers’ social media accounts
  • Distributing a newsletter announcement of the challenge to the Ann Summers customer base

Expectations for the piece were high, but what we got far surpassed what we could have anticipated.

The results

With our simple but compelling piece of content, we were able to achieve some impressive results for Ann Summers:

Objective Target Actual
Generate coverage in online publications 20 pieces 89 pieces
Generate content views 1 million 2.7 million
Drive referral visits to the Ann Summers website 1,000 117,000
Increase the number of social interactions (shares and comments) 1,000 58,600

 

We even accomplished some impressive feats that weren’t in our original list of objectives:

  • We secured 53 links back to the Ann Summers website
  • Some media outlets generated videos using the sex positions imagery, which totalled over 25,000 views on YouTube
  • A news channel also generated a video from the story, which received 12,000 views on YouTube

Many of the major tabloid and social sharing websites published the challenge. It gained worldwide coverage – it had gone viral –  with news sites from many different continents picking it up.

Coverage highlights included:

  • Cosmopolitan
  • LadBible
  • Mail Online
  • The Mirror
  • Buzzfeed
  • FHM
  • 9GAG

Due to the number of people the campaign reached and the simplicity of the content creation, this became the most cost-effective and successful online campaign Ann Summers has ever had.

The campaign has also been nominated for several awards, including ‘Best Use of Content’ by the prestigious Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and ‘Best PR Campaign’ at the UK Agency Awards.

Since then, leading media outlets have come to us looking for the next hot story and citing Ann Summers as the go-to authority for quotes on all things sexy. We now have more exciting opportunities to promote their brand, increase engagement and keep them in the forefront of customers’ minds.

Be our next success story

We want to help make your brand famous, too. If you’re interested in working with us on your PR campaign, or you’d like to know more about our other services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch today.

Let’s talk more

Jonny Taylor