Roolo Bitcoin Balloon Launch

Bitcoin Balloons – Outdoor Guerilla Marketing for a start up

by is a bitcoin exchange that was new to a saturated market with lots of very active competition and many rapidly emerging companies. With such a challenge on our hands we started thinking of a variety of different interesting ideas to gain publicity. The objective was to get the exchange noticed by those already active in the bitcoin space and to extend the brand slightly into the awareness of the general public.

roolo exchange

The concept came as most good ideas do from a trip to the pub with my previous boss VP of Strategy and product marketing at Hearst Lee Wilkinson. The rough concept was to release a large weather balloon with a GPS tracker and a very large prize attached, creating a sort of international treasure hunt.

Lee Wilkinson brainchild of the original concept talking at Mind The Product
Lee Wilkinson who helped develop the original concept talking at Mind The Product

After a bit of research into aviation laws this wasn’t going to be something that was particularly legal without jumping through a variety of hoops and a lot of planning, with the very real risk that the balloon would just end up unclaimed in the middle of the ocean somewhere. A Central London launch point was also going to be out of the question and so I went back to the drawing board in terms of creating something with maximum reach and minimal costs.

The second version of the plan was using 50 smaller party balloons where each one would have a redeemable voucher with £20 worth of bitcoin that they could claim if they found the balloon. In total we released £1000 worth of bitcoin attached to the balloons in the summer of 2015. The beauty of this plan is that we’d still be able to create the headline of £1000 worth of bitcoin to be released from Hyde Park knowing full well that the majority of balloons would probably go unclaimed therefore keeping the costs down massively.

The Launch Strategy

  1. Announce launch 1 week before and several times in the run up
  2. Create a video explaining the stunt, the prize and the exchange
  3. Share page/microsite on reddit
  4. Live tweet the location of launch and expected launch
  5. Film the launch, live tweet and periscope
  6. Brand the balloons and create clear call to action
  7. Person who finds balloon must tweet pic with balloon
  8. Bitcoin paid to person via twitter service @changetip

The competition was successfully announced via a blog post which was then shared on the Reddit bitcoin thread where it reached the front page and received considerable interest from a very engaged and relevant community. This discussion was a key result for us in terms of engagement with the right audience and we hadn’t even launched the first balloon yet.

tip 1: Sometimes the preparatory posts and buzz for an event can have a greater impact than the event itself so be prepared to put in a lot of work in the run up to any marketing stunt.

bitcoin reddit balloon

When we did get around to launching people just had to tweet a pic with themselves and the balloon to the Roolo twitter account. We would then use a third party service ChangeTip to pay into their accounts via a twitter login. This had the added benefit of each successful find being exposed to ChangeTip’s twitter audience of 9k engaged bitcoin users and was mutually beneficial for both companies.

bitcoin balloon tweet
A happy person discovering his bitcoin balloon and tweeting us about it.

We also decided to use a photographer Abigail Scarlett who was the worlds first bitcoin photographer and she was of course paid for her photography of the event in bitcoin.

tip 2: When creating your own campaign have a think about how you can involve other companies and influencers in the same space to reach a mutually beneficial goal.

Roolo Periscope ballon
Ed Thurlow filmed the entire event through live streaming service Periscope.

We noticed many of the balloons were heading too high too quickly so we added a small hole to encourage them to land closer to the launch area, this allowed us to start discussions with those around and discuss one to one the benefits of the exchange.

discovering bitcoin balloon
This guy knew about bitcoin and found one of our balloons nearby. He now had £20 worth to claim and would more than likely start using Roolo as his exchange.

tip 3: Improvise to get results and make sure you’re representing your brand, perhaps with a t-shirt.

Off the back of this publicity the CEO Anthony Culligan was invited to talk at one of Europe’s largest financial conferences and he has now gone on to head up product at alongside Sir David Walker the former chairman of Barclays. Sometimes the results of your campaign will be unexpected and impossible to plan


Here’s a couple more pictures from the day.

Morgan and Ed with bitcoin mega balloon
MorganSchofield and Ed Thurlow with bitcoin mega balloon in Hyde Park. Photos by Bitcoin photographer Abigail Scarlett.
Bitcoin balloon over Hyde Park
Bitcoin balloon over Hyde Park
Morgan Schofield with Roolo t-shirt and balloons ready to go
Morgan Schofield with Roolo t-shirt and balloons ready to go
Myself and Morgan filling up the mega balloon
Myself and Morgan filling up the mega balloon
Branding the mega balloon with stickers
Branding the mega balloon with stickers
Passer by interested in bitcoin with his balloon
Passer by interested in bitcoin with his balloon
The double £40 worth of bitcoins attached to these two
The double £40 worth of bitcoins attached to these two
Ed Thurlow with Roolo t-shirt
Ed Thurlow with Roolo t-shirt
Watching the concept fly
Watching the concept fly

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