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Rumrunning, Web 2.0 Style

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Article Featured Image

Back in 2004, when Malibu Rum was creating a new concept for its web presence, the company decided to add video and TV commercials to its coupon website. But unlike most sites populated with silent pictures and text, Malibu wanted to start a revolution. During that period, the Malibu brand was owned by Allied Domecq, which selected NetStairs.com and its IV~8 intelligent media delivery platform to bring this vision to life.

Since then, the world has witnessed the tsunami effect of online video, and a significant multimedia presence has taken the mainstream by storm. Popular destinations such as YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook paved the way for Web 2.0. In July 2005, Pernod Ricard completed its acquisition of Allied Domecq, and Malibu had a new owner.

As Malibu became the world’s No. 1 coconut-flavored brand, the company wanted to repeat its success with a new banana flavor. Wanting to run a summer special, Malibu reached out to NetStairs.

Setting Goals
The objectives were subtle but complex, and there were many factors to consider. From the use of special fonts to incorporating an island motif, representing the Caribbean lifestyle with a host of online functionalities and a hosted TV-media blitz were the core challenges. NetStairs brought in its creative, programming, and core engineering team.

First, there were challenges regarding legal age. Online visitors had to be of legal drinking age to view the site, and each state had its own requirements. Then, once a user’s age was authenticated and stored for legal matters, access to the website had to provide an all-encompassing experience with the following objectives:
—Entertain with ease of use
—Stick to Malibu’s island theme
—Provide maximum viewing capability for watching online TV ads
—Deliver recipes
—Offer viral marketing with opt-in list compilation
—Increase in-store traffic via submission of mail-in rebate (while supplies last)
—Keep track of online users from video encounter to designated landing pages
—Know who viewed and printed the mail-in rebate coupons

Beyond media streaming, both NetStairs and Malibu realized the unique complexities that would enable the site to become an enjoyable and informational destination targeted to buyers.

Getting Started
Malibu’s coconut-flavored rum had enjoyed a high level of success. But now, the stakes were higher. NetStairs’ technical and creative team had to meet or exceed the new owners’ expectations.

The campaign the company had in mind was quite complex, and appointed project manager Rebecca Webber of Pernod Ricard was assigned to spearhead the undertaking, providing guidelines and submitting a comprehensive reporting system to her senior management. The goal was to monetize the introduction of the new banana flavor, and NetStairs’ team wanted to exceed expectations. The site had to include a campaign-tracking system with unprecedented subtle visuals.

Incorporating TV ads online with maximum universal, fluid, and transparent viewing experiences was required. They had to be incorporated with scheduled print-media and TV-commercial spots, so both teams began the process.

As is done for most websites, a mock-up storyboard presentation was prepared. After the initial planning phase and its review, many detailed adjustments were made. The final storyboard version was approved for construction, and the creative team then began the actual development and page layout.

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