CAMPAIGNS: Event marketing - Scotch sticks to mailing contest

Client: 3M (St. Paul, MN)

Client: 3M (St. Paul, MN)

Client: 3M (St. Paul, MN)

PR Team: Hunter & Associates (New York)

Campaign: ’Scotch Brand Mailroom Challenge’

Time Frame: June to October 20, 1999

Budget: Six figures

Scotch Brand tape maker 3M decided once again this year to capitalize on

the holiday season - and all the package wrapping and mailing that comes

with it - by sponsoring its second ’mailroom challenge.’

The event was held on October 20 deep in the heart of New York City’s

financial district. But unlike last year, the company’s agency, Hunter &

Associates, moved the project from an out-of-the-way spot on lower

Broadway to Wall Street, directly in front of the New York Stock


The contest, which pitted eight of America’s mailroom whizzes against

each other in a huge outdoor mailroom, sought to reaffirm public

recognition of 3M’s Scotch brand name while increasing the profile of

its key packaging product, Scotch tear-by-hand packaging tape.

The winner would receive dollars 5,000 in mutual funds and, more

importantly, be crowned Scotch ’Mailroom Marvel’ for 1999.


The contest sought press coverage that would resonate with the general

public during the holiday season. ’We wanted to hold an event during the

time of the year when the product was being used and purchased, and

identify people in a certain profession or job who would be viewed as

experts by the public,’ says Hunter & Associates group VP Jason


The contest, Winocour adds, builds recognition among mailroom employees

while broadcasting to the public that packaging ’experts’ - like the

contestants - use 3M products to do their jobs. But holding the event in

front of the NYSE was the icing on the cake as far as media attention is

concerned, he says. ’3M is a NYSE listed company, so there is some

synergy there, and also the NYSE provides an additional media hook. It’s

an attractive venue.’


Though only a one-day event, the contest involved five months of


In June, a mass mailing of more than 1,000 promotional flyers was sent

to companies throughout the country. An independent judge from Airborne

Express selected eight finalists from 50 entrants based on 1,200-word

essays on why they thought they were capable of multitasking and

juggling deadlines.

As for media outreach, Winocour says a press release was sent to the top

500 daily newspapers to announce the search for participants. To

announce the final contest, another press release went out to about a

dozen TV, radio and newspaper outlets in each of the eight home-town

markets of the contestants (New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Houston,

San Francisco, Atlanta, Minneapolis and St. Louis). Additionally, the

event was pitched to all major national news desks, including CNN, CBS

Radio, MSNBC, USA Today and The New York Times.

On the big day, under a tent in a mock mailroom - with both real (for

the contest) and oversized, fake (for show) equipment and packages -

participants had to perform tasks and multitasks, such as packaging a

set of skis for express mailing to a CEO’s Swiss chalet while collating

reports. Judges included representatives from the US Postal Service,

Federal Express and United Parcel Service.


Although the announcement of the contest received only two hits - in the

business sections of the Houston Chronicle and Colorado Springs Gazette

- the contest itself had more than 65 media placements and more than

13.5 million impressions. That wasn’t bad considering that the day of

the event, there was a torrential rainstorm that kept both onlookers and

media at bay.

Coverage included a humorous skit - a takeoff of the contest - on Comedy

Central’s The Daily Show and mentions on Imus in the Morning and America

in the Morning on Westwood One. Print coverage included The New York

Daily News, Arizona Republic and the Houston Chronicle. Many local

television news broadcasts used the event as a light feature piece to

round out their broadcasts.

And the winner? Samuel Ramos, a mailroom employee at Sony Music in New

York, who beat out colleagues from companies such as Pitney Bowes in

Atlanta, the San Francisco Chronicle and a law firm in Washington,



Both Winocour and Alan D. Rames, 3M’s marketing communications manager,

hope to include celebrity judges next year. Preferably, Winocour says,

celebrities who started in the mailroom.

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