Firefly and Freescale Semiconductors: Maintaining momentum for 16 years

Freescale Semiconductor, a global leader in embedded processing solutions, enlisted the support of Firefly Communications in 1998. Since a full case study would take a while to read after 16 years together, we’ve focused on two programme activities as part of a broader PR programme.


Automotive: McLaren Applied Technologies partnered with Freescale to continuously evolve the technology used by McLaren’s F1 team. Much of the technology developed for this filters down into everyday road cars.

An annual partner event was established at the famous McLaren Technology Centre in Woking to leverage the brand recognition of McLaren, whilst establishing Freescale as the leading chip supplier to the automotive industry.

The events were organised to focus on specific themes, such as “F1 to the street” and “F1 to medical applications” with top tier journalists targeted and offered a tour of the facility and pictures with the cars as an added incentive. Most of the day was built around presentations on advancements in automotive technology, given by both Freescale and McLaren.

Medical: Freescale developed the world’s smallest ARM-powered chip, something that meant a great deal to engineers but little to most people on the street.

To support a focus on the medical applications of Freescale’s offerings, a pitch was developed highlighting the potential for ‘swallowable computers’.  The chip’s size gave it limitless potential in the Internet of Things, with the idea of swallowing a computer acting as a way of illustrating what innovations such developments can enable.

The objective was to maintain relationships with core electronics press while broadening out into important vertical markets (such as automotive and medical) with stories that could be understood by those not engrained in ‘deep tech’.


Automotive: Top tier journalists were invited to the events held at the McLaren Technology Centre in 2012, 2013 and 2014 for talks on advancements in technology, enabled by Freescale and McLaren. The journalists were given a tour of the centre’s museum and received photographs with the F1 cars, which were then used on their social media profiles.

Medical: The world’s smallest ARM-powered chip was distributed with pictures that emphasised its size when compared to other miniature items. The focus on the potential of the ‘swallable computer’ was deployed as the lead message, supported with possible uses (such as monitoring acid levels in the stomach) were provided to further paint a picture of what exactly this technological development meant for the masse market.


Automotive: The joint event at the McLaren Technology Centre, which developed into an exclusive annual event, resulted in 24 top journalists, including those from the BBC and New Scientist, being briefed on Freescale technology used in automotive applications. Resulting coverage has seen Freescale referenced in articles from “Will chatting smart cars become a reality soon?” (BBC) to “Technology Roadmap: Connected Vehicles” (Automotive World).

Freescale and Firefly bridged the gap from talking about specialist technology to providing thought leadership on enabling innovation.

Medical: Focusing on the medical application of the smallest ARM-powered chip in the world, resulted in widespread media coverage in hugely respected media, the likes of Wired: “Freescale’s Insanely Tiny ARM Chip Will Put the Internet of Things Inside Your Body”, ZDNet: “Freescale unveils chip you can swallow” and TechRadar: “Tiny Freescale KL02 ARM chip bound for swallowable computers”.

By focusing on the end use of the technology, the limited audience that understands ‘deep tech’ was expanded to a much wider demographic of people and helped Freescale raise awareness of the innovation it enables.

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