CAMPAIGNS: Fontainebleau II builds buzz with artistic approach

PR Team: O'Connell & Goldberg (Hollywood, FL), Turnberry Associates (Aventura, FL), and Fontainebleau (Miami) Campaign: The Fontainebleau II Time Frame: June 26-July 9, 2002 Budget: $30,000

PR Team: O'Connell & Goldberg (Hollywood, FL), Turnberry Associates (Aventura, FL), and Fontainebleau (Miami) Campaign: The Fontainebleau II Time Frame: June 26-July 9, 2002 Budget: $30,000

It's fitting that a place as celluloid-friendly as Miami Beach's Fontainebleau Hotel, whose pool and sweeping marble staircase have served as luxurious locations in films like Goldfinger, Scarface, and The Bodyguard, is getting a sequel. Like any follow-up, The Fontainebleau II, a condominium hotel slated for completion in late 2004, has its work cut out for it in matching the original's reputation. Sure, the name alone evokes the height of tony comfort and an all-time guest list that boasts Frank and Marilyn, Elvis and Ike. But with heavy competition to become the jewel of the waterfront, the importance of publicity couldn't be overstated. Strategy The project, a joint venture between Fontainebleau and developer Turnberry Associates, received a good deal of press attention during its conceptualization. When construction was set to begin, however, Turnberry's PR agency faced a significant challenge: a South Florida market saturated with news of high-end construction projects. "The golden-shovel approach would not work," says Jim O'Connell, president of O'Connell and Goldberg. "It seems another golden shovel goes into the ground every single day. "Moreover," adds O'Connell, "the Fontainebleau II is being built next to the Fontainebleau, which ranks as a legendary structure. Anything II does needs to reflect that aura and degree of sophistication." Tactics When the term "masterpiece" was used to describe the design of the 36-story building during a brainstorming session, O'Connell & Goldberg took the word and ran with it, expressing a very literal message about the project's aesthetic appeal in an unconventional way. They hired an artist to create reproductions of famous paintings in an unlikely but prominent place: the plywood barrier that conceals the building site. A good-enough start for sure, but the coup de grace was finding an artist that would grab reporters' attention. In Sidewalk Sam, who, despite being paralyzed from the chest down, is known for copying masterworks onto asphalt in major American and European cities, they found just that. Bob Guillemin, Sam's real name, was hired to reproduce 20 famous paintings in 10 days. His versions of "Mona Lisa," "Blue Boy," and Van Gogh's self-portrait were hung in gold-leaf frames and bathed by lights mounted above. Passersby were encouraged to stop and talk with the artist, and, on the last day, members of The Miami Project, a paralysis research center to which Turnberry made a donation, went to the site to put the final strokes on the last work. Results Sidewalk Sam was covered by the Miami Herald, the South Florida Business Journal, and a number of other print outlets and TV news programs. The business results were immediate. Traffic in the sales center rose by 20% during the two weeks, which quickened the pace of sales: For the year-and-a-half that the condos were available, about 50% were sold; by the end of two-week campaign, 60% were off the market. Future O'Connell says the success of the campaign led to his agency's gaining Fontainebleau II as a client. Moreover, he believes the success will result in the hotel feeling comfortable with more adventurous strategies. "I feel sure that when we propose an idea that may be a bit off-the-wall, they'll be comfortable in going forward," he said. "This is an off-the-wall business sometimes. You have to cut through the clutter to get your message out."

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