CAMPAIGNS: Travel PR - TX spa slathers on BBQ sauce for PR

Client: Rosewood Hotels and Resorts (Dallas)

PR Team: Nike Communications (New York)

Campaign: The Texas-style barbecue backrub

Time Frame: November 2000 - May 2001

Budget: $10,000



With so many vacation destinations around the globe competing for the

consumer's travel dollar, US resorts have found it increasingly

difficult to distinguish themselves - especially given that most of them

offer a similar mix of sun, dining, and golf. Hoping to one-up the

competition, Rosewood Hotels and Resorts tapped its corporate PR agency

of record, New York-based luxury brand specialists Nike Communications,

to promote the $4 million renovation of its Spa at Crescent

Court, a 30,000-square-foot facility located in Dallas.



The particular challenge was not merely to stir up excitement around

Dallas and in the travel media, but to generate publicity in places

where people wouldn't ordinarily expect to hear about a spa. "I worried

that we didn't have anything that would garner the kind of coverage we

were looking for," admits Rosewood director of corporate communications

Julie Zirbel. Her concerns were shared by Nike president Nina Kaminer:

"To be honest, this wasn't stop-the-presses news."



Strategy



Nike aimed to crystallize exactly what the Spa at Crescent Court offered

that no other spa could match. However, the agency also wanted to

reinforce Rosewood's "sense of place" marketing theme; everything about

the company's resorts - from food to architecture to service - is

designed to complement and celebrate the local culture.



Playing on Texas' reputation as the barbecue mecca of the free world,

Nike generated the idea for the Texas-style BBQ backrub. One small

problem: no such treatment existed at the spa. The backrub eventually

developed by the spa staff employs everything from cayenne pepper to a

lime margarita moisturizer. "I'm not a native Texan, so I didn't know

how the idea would be perceived locally," Zirbel explains. "But with

President Bush in office, it seemed that the media was looking for

stories with Texas connections."



Tactics



Nike shot b-roll footage of the treatment, arranged for still

photography, and set about pitching. The story was sent to traditional

(USA Today's Life section) and non-traditional (CNN's Business Unusual)

outlets for travel stories. "Other than the actual creation of the

backrub, the execution was fairly simple," Kaminer admits.



Results



Nike delivered on Rosewood's mandate, as the BBQ backrub found its way

into Newsweek, USA Today, and Family Circle. The greatest coup, however,

was securing a story that ran on the front page of The Wall Street

Journal on January 18. "A total slam dunk," says Zirbel. "Everyone from

the marketing department to the people who work at the spa was really

proud of all the attention."



Additionally, the Spa at Crescent Court has been running at full

capacity for the last few months. "I don't know that they've sold

thousands of these packages as a result of all the media, but it

certainly has brought interest to the spa and its treatments," Kaminer

says.



Future



Nike will continue to manage Rosewood's corporate PR.



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