CAMPAIGNS: Community relations - CDOT makes quite the name foritself

Client: Colorado Dept. of Transportation (CDOT) (Denver)

PR Team: Public Relations Advertising Company (PRACO)(Denver)

Campaign: Transportation Expansion Project ("T-REX")

Time Frame: July 2000 - July 2001

Budget: $80,000



The Colorado Department of Transportation knew it needed to fix Denver's

outdated and aging Southeast Corridor. There was a $1.7 billion

proposal on the books to fix the 19-mile traffic mess of Interstates 25

and 225. The proposal to widen highways and extend the regional

transportation district's light rail system would result in a temporary

roadwork nuisance, but the CDOT believed the project would result in a

long-term solution to traffic woes.



Enter PRACO and its T-REX solution to make Denver's traffic nightmares

extinct.



Research showed that the public, whose approval of the project hinged on

their understanding it, didn't know the project's geographic parameters

or that the highway expansion included light rail development. People

also didn't know where to get details on the then-named Southeast

Corridor Project.



PRACO and the CDOT had to convince people to put up with temporary

traffic snarls and trust that the government would work to fix the

problem.



Strategy



To get stakeholders - including the general public, businesses, and

Corridor residents - to support the project, PRACO convinced the CDOT to

brand the campaign. A brand that would last for the entire project would

unite the diverse audiences and, since it would be introduced by project

supporters, PRACO felt this would help focus on the end benefits of the

construction.



After sorting more than 300 ideas, PRACO and the CDOT coined "T-REX,"

the acronym nickname for the Transportation Expansion Project. The name

also gave PRACO and the CDOT the opportunity to create a personality for

the project to interest and entertain the public. The idea was to use

T-REX to represent the evolution of an old, outdated transportation

system into a modern, innovative, multi-modal transportation artery.



Tactics



To ensure its approach would be unique and effective, PRACO submitted

the T-REX logo and trademark for registration to the US Patent and

Trademark Office. Since the logo would be used by multiple public and

private agencies to influence many audiences, PRACO produced the T-REX

brand identity and logo usage guidelines for client agencies, the

design-build contractor, and other groups.



Wary of backlash over the use of public funds to create a brand, PRACO

downplayed the public launch, but hyped the internal launch to motivate

workers. The first people to learn of the new brand and logo were

project employees, consultants, supporters, and sponsors, who all

received special brand kits and gifts.



To announce the brand and logo, PRACO arranged one-on-one meetings with

key media. To avoid accusations that the brand idea sidetracked the

T-REX project, PRACO sent the brand press kit mailing a few days before

a media event announcing the $1.67 million-winning T-REX

contractor.



Results



Local news, including all four major network news stations, the WB

affiliate, both Spanish-language networks, and a community access

channel all ran stories introducing the T-REX brand. In print, the story

was covered by the Denver Business Journal, Rocky Mountain News, Denver

Post, The Daily Journal, Boulder's Daily Camera and several others.

Trade publications also ran the story, including Colorado Construction

Magazine, and Engineering News-Record.



According to a joint poll published on July 17 by the Rocky Mountain

News and a local TV station, 94% of Denver metro residents had heard

about T-REX, and 79% supported it.



Future



T-REX is slated to break ground in the fall.



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