PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Leapin' lizards! NYC fooled by Sci-Fi PR

NEW YORK: New Yorkers are used to enduring a host of indignities

that would test the patience of Job - dirty air, excessive rent, crowded

subways, Lizzie Grubman, etc. - but apparently sewer lizards are one

indignity too many.



On July 7 and 8, the Sci-Fi Channel, working with On-the-Go, a New

York-based guerrilla marketing firm, plastered 5,000 stickers around New

York City sewer grates. The stickers displayed a mutated half

lizard/half crocodile, and warned that the city was going to begin

fumigating the sewers for the creatures.



A Web address listed on the stickers drove New Yorkers to a mock site,

www.sewer-alert.org, where users were able to find out more information

about the lizards, such as "How can I protect myself and my loved ones?"

New Yorkers were urged to enter their zip codes to find out when the

spraying in their areas would commence. After entering the code, users

were taken to the home page of The Chronicle, a new Sci-Fi show about a

journalist who joins the staff of a "Weekly World" style tabloid.



The "sewer lizards" stunt immediately rang up media attention from local

TV stations nationwide, as well as in the press, where it appeared in

USA Today, NewsDay, and the Daily News.



"I think that the story got so much play on local television stations

because people like seeing jaded New Yorkers fall for something so

unbelievable," said Lana Kim, a spokesperson for the Sci-Fi Channel.



Not everyone thought the joke was funny, however. New York's Department

of Environmental Protection was swamped by calls from people who were

scared about the effect that the spraying might have, and also to find

out if the sewer lizards were real. And although the poor call handlers

may disagree, PRWeek certainly thinks that the strange beasts deserve a

PR Play of the Week.



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