Campaigns: Event Marketing - Summer’s hotter with otter fodder

In its second year of operation, the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific needed a summer 1999 promotion to attract visitors during its peak period. To do so, it created ’Sea Otter Summer.’ Why sea otters?

In its second year of operation, the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific needed a summer 1999 promotion to attract visitors during its peak period. To do so, it created ’Sea Otter Summer.’ Why sea otters?

In its second year of operation, the Long Beach Aquarium of the

Pacific needed a summer 1999 promotion to attract visitors during its

peak period. To do so, it created ’Sea Otter Summer.’ Why sea

otters?



Because 24% of visitors cite the sea otter exhibit as the one they most

want to see.





Strategy



Looking for a news hook, the aquarium’s PR department found a sad one:

California sea otters are close to being on the endangered species

list.



That fact became the theme.



The welcome addition of a new sea otter pup to the aquarium in May 1999

added another news peg. Since this otter had been orphaned and abandoned

when she was only a week old, the PR team used her story to

’personalize’ the challenges otters face in the wild.





Tactics



The publicity effort started with a media kit aimed at journalists in

Southern California and in nearby markets such as Arizona. The aquarium

provided a photogenic venue to stimulate the media’s interest. A media

event on June 17, 1999 involved animal caretakers inside the exhibit,

feeding and training the sea otters, while a curator outside discussed

otter behavior and what can be done to help otters in the wild. One

month before the press event, all media received press kits with pitch

letters listing coverage opportunities. Alerts were sent to all Southern

California media a few days before the actual press event.



The Los Angeles Times got the first look at the new sea otter pup in

mid-May. Other newspapers received photos of the animal, and a B-roll of

the new pup went to the TV stations. The aquarium’s audio-visual

department produced a looped video of the curators caring for the new

baby otter to show visitors.





Results



All local television outlets and Good Day LA (Los Angeles’ Fox affiliate

morning show) covered the event. Several regional and local newspapers,

including The Palm Springs Desert Sun, Long Beach Press Telegram and LA

Weekly, wrote feature articles about it. The Los Angeles Times’ piece

appeared June 17. The story also won ink in out-of-town and national

publications, including the Chicago Tribune, The Detroit News and Air

Force Times.



NBC Nightly News even did a segment highlighting the plight of sea

otters in the wild based on information in the media kit.





Future



’The great coverage we got and the large attendance numbers that

resulted set us up for another good year, with projected attendance of

more than a million,’ says Michele Nachum, the museum’s PR manager.



Client:Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach, CA)

PR Team: In house - Laurie Whalen-Martinez and Michele Nachum

Campaign: Sea Otter Summer

Time Frame: June to August 1999

Budget: dollars 12,000



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