A strategic seeding project developed by Avantgarde put Handspring’s new Treo 600 smartphone into the hands of key personalities in the entertainment, technology and business worlds, continuing the company’s successful viral marketing efforts around its Treo line of mobile communications devices. The highly visible “influencers” reached by Avantgarde acted as leaders or connectors to other personalities in their circles, helping to spark an epidemic of Treo 600 purchases immediately upon the device’s release in September. Avantgarde is presently developing testimonials around influencers' use of the Treo.
A December article in Business 2.0, “Anatomy of a Buzz Campaign,” highlighted the value of this program in generating awareness of the Treo 600 (see article in Business 2.0; subscription required). Business 2.0’s Damon Darlin asked Biz360, a San Mateo, CA-based media analysis company, to track mentions of the Treo 600 in print and electronic media. Biz360 found that between the launch of the device in September and late October, the buzz campaign had garnered free editorial coverage equivalent to $265,000 worth of advertising space.
(Avantgarde contributed to Biz360’s own successful launch in 2001 with launch materials, a corporate web site, and interface and branding design.)
Buoyed by positive reviews of the Treo 600, Handspring merged with Palm in October, creating the new PalmOne. (See press release). And in November, the Treo 600 received PC Magazine’s Technical Excellence Award and was a finalist for the Best of COMDEX Award in the Mobile Devices category. (See press release). Avantgarde congratulates Handspring on the Treo 600’s phenomenal success and stands ready to help other clients establish “customer epidemics” through targeted product placement with visible thought leaders.