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The Firefly Upsee is a standing and walking harness for children who are wheelchair bound. It was invented by an Israeli mother, Debby Elnatan who couldn’t bear to see her son confined to a wheelchair for most of his waking day. JPR’s client, Leckey, is the manufacturer of the Firefly Upsee and we were tasked with launching the product to the international market.

Our brief from the client was to “go global” with the Firefly Upsee and generate as much positive coverage as possible. There was no advertising budget – the success of this campaign and awareness of the Upsee was solely reliant on effective PR.



Our objectives were:

  • Ensure high visibility internationally of the Firefly Upsee
  • Use the Firefly Upsee to position Leckey  as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of disability equipment
  • Ensure the PR is not simply about the product but also the story behind it: an invention prompted by a mother’s love
  • Generate sales through positive media coverage (target: 900 sales in 6 months)
  • Drive traffic to the website, which in turn would encourage people to attend the  webinars

We knew we could reach our target audience (parents of children with special needs) through special needs bloggers, health correspondents, general news correspondents and parenting media, and carried out extensive research during February and March  in order to identify our international media.

We also knew the secret to the success of the campaign’s international visibility was based on targeting key journalists, news outlets and bloggers. The correct formulation of the story was critical – it had to be presented in the right way and we took time to ensure the approach and tone was exactly right.

The media launch took place on a cold March day at the Leckey factory in Lisburn, Northern  Ireland. The media launch was content-rich with good interview opportunities with parents, the inventor Debby Elnatan and James Leckey, CEO of Leckey Design.

The launch generated extensive, positive coverage and was soon being translated into many different languages.

Within hours of the launch, the story was on Mail Online. In 18 hours there were 96,000 shares – that’s 3 shares every 2 seconds. Within a week, that figure was reached 498,000 shares. It was also the most shared story on the Independent website the week of the launch and the Huffington Post carried two separate stories– the launch story and a story of a Canadian girl enjoying her first dance. ABC News and ran the story and there were over 400,000 views of the case study videos.

There was blanket coverage in N. Ireland and RoI media as well as extensive coverage in UK media. TV stations across the globe  ran the  story  including RTE , UTV, ITV (England), Sunrise TV (Australia), Channel 10 (Australia) , Channel 2 (Israel) and CNN Turkey and MSNBC (USA). Radio coverage was secured in USA, RoI, Northern Ireland, UK, France, Germany, Italy, USA and Brazil.

Online, the Firefly Upsee began to trend on Facebook and Twitter and  the photo of the three children walking with their parents went viral . Thousands of conversations on Twitter and special needs bloggers blogged extensively about the Upsee . Even Ellen DeGeneres blogged about the Firefly Upsee.      

The campaign resulted in a 10-fold increase in traffic to the  Leckey  website , facebook likes  on the Firefly Friends page grew from 1,500 to 7,000 in the space of a week. The company have now sold thousands  of Upsee harnesses to families across the world.  Sales of other Firefly products have been boosted thanks to the success of the PR campaign. 

Since the launch, we have worked on additional Upsee stories which wonderfully reflect the joy of this special invention. Following the launch, an English couple contacted us asking for a special early delivery of an Upsee to allow their 4 year old daughter, Bella, to walk down the aisle as a bridesmaid for her aunt’s wedding. The Firefly team arranged for the Upsee’s delivery and we gave the story exclusively to the Daily Mail.The story of Bella the bridesmaid ran on Page 3, followed by a double-page spread entitled: “Daddy, I can walk! We meet the bravest bridesmaid in Britain”. The online story had 30,000 shares.  Eamonn Holmes discussed it at length during the paper review on Sky News and The Sunday Times ran a follow-up piece that weekend.

Furthermore, Brazilian TV Encontro com Fátima Bernardes (Brazil’s equivalent to ITV’s This Morning) ran a story on the Upsee. A local boy with cerebral palsy was a big fan of the Corinthian football team (Brazil’s biggest football team) so  the Firefly team sent him an Upsee and worked with the programme producer who arranged for the little boy to have a kick around with the team during their training session.

JPR’s Firefly Upsee campaign has won an unprecedented clean sweep of global, European, UK and Northern Ireland awards . (IPRA Golden  World Award for Best Product Launch, European Excellence Award for Best Health Campaign,  UK Corp Comms Award for  Best International campaign and CIPR Pride for Best Health campaign.)

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