Hotwire | Case study McAfee - Hotwire

46.6 million

potential reach

The challenge

The FBI has stated that cyber-weapons will one day surpass terrorism as the greatest threat to the USA. But given the secrecy surrounding national security, how can a brand meaningfully explore the ability of governments to defend against cyber-attacks? At the beginning of 2012, this was the challenge that confronted McAfee and Hotwire: how to kick-start a debate with global policymakers about the steps government and industry should be taking to shore up national cyber-defences.

Understandably, there is a natural reluctance among those responsible for national cyber-defences to reveal too much publicly.

At the outset of the campaign, McAfee set three objectives:

  • Provide strategic recommendations, which should drive awareness at the highest levels of international government, on the key measures needed to safeguard national defences from cyber-attack
  • Enable governments and national security experts to understand how their cyber-defences compare to other countries and organisations
  • Encourage greater collaboration on national security between private sector, public sector and international security bodies

Achieving these three objectives would also serve to demonstrate McAfee’s thought leadership and implicitly highlight its role in helping governments to address the rising threat of cyber-conflict.

"57 per cent of global experts believe that an arms race is taking place in cyber-space"


Our answer

McAfee’s Cyber Defence Report was conceived, overcoming barriers to bring an informed discussion into the public domain and before policymakers at the highest levels of national and international governing bodies and defence organisations.

The strategy for achieving the campaign objectives was to create a forum, which would allow global experts in national security to freely exchange and air their views. To bring these sensitive discussions out into the open, McAfee partnered with a highly regarded think tank, an organisation skilled in generating public debate about vital policy matters.

McAfee commissioned Security Defence Agenda (SDA), an independent Brussels-based think tank which specialises in security and defence, to conduct an assessment of cyber-preparedness across the globe. 

Under the PR team’s direction, SDA surveyed 250 leading worldwide authorities and conducted in-depth interviews with more than 80 cyber-security experts in government, companies, international organisations and academia. Participants included high-ranking officials from NATO, the USA and ministries of defence across Europe. Interviewees quoted in subsequent McAfee press materials included Stewart Barker, the former assistant secretary of homeland security under President George W. Bush, and Isaac Ben-Israel, the Israeli Prime Minister’s cyber-security adviser.

To complete the research, SDA conducted stress tests of 21 countries to assess their resilience to cyber-threats according to an internationally recognised framework.

The McAfee and SDA study, Cyber Defence Report, generated some alarming, surprising and newsworthy findings:

  • 57 per cent of global experts believe that an arms race is taking place in cyber-space
  • 36 per cent believe cyber-security is more important than missile defence
  • 43 per cent identified damage or disruption to critical infrastructure as the greatest single threat posed by cyber-attacks with wide economic consequences

Hotwire supported the launch to the public through two events and traditional and digital media channels:

  • Tier 1 journalist pre-briefings under embargo
  • Launch events in Brussels and Washington – panel discussions on the Cyber Defence Report’s findings
  • Full global media launch and promotion of collateral across McAfee’s social media channels, including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter

The results

Since its launch, McAfee’s Cyber Defence Report has delivered on all three objectives and made a significant contribution to the debate on global cyber-security. 

Most importantly, the Cyber Defence Report – a project which was devised, led and executed by the agency and in-house UK PR team – has facilitated discussions for McAfee with the highest levels of national governments across Europe and the USA.

Hotwire used its own version of the AMEC Valid Metrics Framework, with an aim to measure more tangible business outcomes, away from the traditional reliance on AVEs:

  • 136 pieces of national, print and online coverage
  • Potential audience reach = 46.6m people
  • Increase share of voice during the period from 18 per cent to 21 per cent
  • Distribution to 41 key UK public affairs contacts, including 4 ministers, 5 advisers, 2 select committee chairs and 25 officials
  • Relevant Twitter audience reach: 80,646
  • Social media mentions, including re-tweets: 287
  • Swedish Minister for IT, Anna-Karin Hatt, tweeted about the report
  • 23 per cent increase in McAfee EMEA page views during week of launch
  • 23 per cent increase in McAfee sit visits during week of launch
  • More than 2,000 downloads of full report – a record number of downloads for a McAfee campaign promoted solely through PR and without any other marketing support.

The launch and report have also been instrumental in starting discussions for McAfee with the highest levels of national governments across Europe and the USA. 

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