Moving the consumer market to consider car sharing


Before it was a household name, Zipcar was a startup with a communications challenge: it needed help convincing consumers to rethink both car ownership and car rental. And it had to firmly establish a brand new concept: “car sharing.” Over the course of a multi-year partnership following Zipcar’s acquisition of its largest rival, CooperKatz led integrated PR strategies on behalf of Zipcar nationally, in major urban markets, across scores of universities and among key influencers. All efforts were focused on encouraging individuals to reimagine how they drive in a sharing economy: spending less, enjoying convenient access, benefiting the environment and having a lot more fun along the way.

Promoting a “Best New Idea in Business”

CooperKatz managed many special initiatives over our three-plus year partnership with Zipcar. One of the most creative and unique was the company’s “Low Car Diet.” This program encouraged hundreds of residents in major Zipcar markets to hand over the keys to their own cars and commit to living one month utilizing their Zipcar memberships instead, in conjunction with public transportation, walking and biking.


The campaign raised awareness of car sharing and enabled participants to test whether permanently reducing car usage was a viable option. CooperKatz landed major national and local media coverage of the Low Car Diet, including a segment on “NBC Nightly News,” spreads in daily newspapers, radio features and much more. We also helped with on-the-ground activation via events in top markets like Seattle, New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and more.


Another integral effort was developing a turn-key launch kit for universities when Zipcar arrived on campus. The team prepared all PR and media elements, partnered on social strategies and worked with local teams to customize our approach to each school. The team facilitated dozens of local launches in this way, becoming a vital partner to both the corporate office and several regional counterparts.


The strength of our work on behalf of Zipcar was acknowledged with a Bronze SABRE Award and, among the hundreds of headlines the team helped to secure, Fortune magazine heralded Zipcar “The Best New Idea in Business” in a 2009 cover feature. The article encapsulated the brand transformation that PR helped drive with this analysis: “Just a few years ago, the notion that you could persuade upwardly mobile professionals to share cars would have seemed as far-fetched as being able to unlock a car with a telephone. But what started as a counterculture movement has gone mainstream.”

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