Kia Motors uses theme of Y2K Client: Kia Motors America (Irvine, CA)
PR Team: Pacific Communications Group (Torrance, CA), Goldberg Moser
O’Neill (San Francisco)
Time Frame: April to August 1999
Budget: dollars 15,000
To cut through the clutter in television advertising, Kia Motors America
uses ’car commercials that don’t look like car commercials.’ That’s how
Dick Macedo, Kia’s executive vice president of marketing and sales,
Kia and its PR agency, Pacific Communications Group (PCG), reasoned that
it could extend Kia’s new ad campaign’s reach by publicizing the
promotion before the ads aired. With not much more than a month of lead
time, the PR strategy was to gain the most leverage from the advertising
campaign. The series of ads claimed that ’Y2K’ really stands for
’Yes2Kia’ and advised consumers not to worry about imminent disaster as
the millennium arrives; instead, they should say ’yes’ to a new Kia
Sephia or Kia Sportage.
Because Kia has always taken a humorous and sometimes satirical approach
to consumers in its advertising and marketing, Kia PR Manager Geno
Effler and PCG decided on a similar approach with the media: a whimsical
public relations package that echoed the ’Don’t fear Y2K’ theme.
The company had finished its market-by-market expansion across America
earlier in the year. So the strategy called for ’Yes2Kia’ publicity to
reach beyond the traditional US marketing and advertising hubs and to
extend it to other markets. Marketing and automotive writers were
targeted for packages.
With only a month to plan the theme, design the publicity package and
deliver it to a target of 500 key media people nationwide, Kia, PCG and
San Francisco ad agency Goldberg Moser O’Neill engaged in simultaneous
engineering of the campaign.
Since one of the ads, ’Bomb Shelter,’ concerned stockpiling, the Kia
’Y2K Survival Kit’contained a roll of toilet paper emblazoned with a Y2K
sticker - this conveyed a level of satire consistent with the
The box also included a videotape of the upcoming spots, an ad slick
showing one of the supporting print executions and a press release
describing the entire ad campaign.
The targeted date of delivery of the 500 Y2K kits was April 30, two days
before the ads were set to break nationally - enough time to allow the
press to report on the spots but not so much time that they would be
’old news’ when they finally appeared. ’Timing was absolutely crucial to
this strategy,’ Effler says.
The Y2K story took on a life of its own. By making it easy for
journalists to reach company executives for comment, Kia found itself
mentioned in a dizzying array of ’Yes2Kia’ campaign stories, as well as
Y2K stories that were not advertising-oriented.
Since the publicity and advertising campaigns revolved around a popular
issue, Kia’s Y2K efforts gained multiple stories in national media,
including The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and USA Today; ad and
industry trades such as Advertising Age, Adweek and Automotive News; and
major market papers including the Chicago Tribune and Houston
Results of the public relations effort are still coming in. Preliminary
figures, however, indicate that the campaign reached more than eight
million readers in print alone, with additional millions hearing Kia’s
name in radio and television coverage relating to Y2K and ’Yes2Kia.’
Since the ’Yes2Kia’ promotional campaign resulted in two of Kia’s
biggest sales months ever, and the momentum has continued, Y2K might
still be in Kia’s future even after the calendar changes to 2000.
Lee teams with breast cancer
Client:The Lee Company (Merriam, KS)
PR Team: Barkley Evergreen & Partners Public Relations (Kansas City,
Campaign: Lee National Denim Day
Time Frame: January 1999 to October 8
Budget: dollars 400,000
Dress-down day has been around for over 10 years now, and some claim it
was Levi’s that started it all. But for the past four years, dress-down
day has become a cause-related PR event for Lee jeans. For dollars 5,
you can wear jeans to work and raise money for breast cancer research.
That was the concept developed for Lee by PR agency Barkley Evergreen &
Partners (BE&P). Lee is the top-selling brand of jeans for women.
Going into the fourth year for Lee National Denim Day, the company’s
goal was to increase the number of participants and the amount of money
for the Dallas-based Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
People sign up to pay for the freedom to wear jeans to work (in 1997,
Chicago employees of Andersen Consulting wore jeans to work for the
first time ever). The first year, the event had 250,000 participants and
raised dollars 1.4 million. Last year, one million people participated
in Lee National Denim Day and raised dollars 5.5 million.
The original strategy of cause-related marketing was chosen because in
addition to raising awareness about breast cancer, the message is that
Lee is a good brand and one that does good in the world - it’s a leader
in the fight against this potentially fatal disease.
Each year, Lee picks a celebrity spokesperson. This year Patricia
Arquette was chosen. Arquette lost her mother to breast cancer two years
ago and was going public with the story for the first time. According to
John Novaria, BE&P account supervisor, Arquette was a great match for
the agency’s objectives. ’We look for someone who’s really visible,
someone who can take our message to places we wouldn’t be able to get it
to necessarily,’ Novaria says.
Throughout the summer and fall, with the help of Arquette’s publicist,
BE&P booked the actress on The View, Conan O’Brien and
Getting the charity mentioned along with Arquette’s recent films is
’It’s really a matter of establishing relationships with the editors of
those programs,’ Novaria remarks. Other prominent national placements
were feature stories in InStyle and Extra magazines. A print ad
spotlighting Arquette appeared in seven national media outlets,
including People, Glamour, Self and USA Today. The copy was a call to
action from Arquette, saying: this killed my mother, please help us and
register for National Denim Day.
Meanwhile, BE&P mailed a letter from Lee to about 11,000 companies that
had previously participated, asking them to get their employees to sign
up again. People could register at the www.denimday.com web site or via
a toll-free number.
Five press releases, targeting 500 mostly daily newspaper health and
beauty editors and local TV stations, were sent out starting in the
spring and ending with one sent on October 8, trumpeting the campaign’s
In a final push 10 days before the event, Arquette went on a radio tour
and was heard interviewed in the top 20 markets during morning rush
The week of Denim Day, BE&P launched three VNRs, which included B-roll
and sound bites from the previous year’s campaign.
This year’s campaign exceeded expectations, bringing in an estimated
dollars 6 million donated by 1.5 million denim-wearing workers. Denim
Day drew 100 billion media impressions. Novaria says the letter to past
Denim Day participants pulled best, followed by the print ads and
Arquette’s radio spots.
The event is the largest single-day fundraiser for breast cancer in the
nation. ’I could never say the campaign has increased sales,’ admits
Kathy Collins, vice president of marketing at Lee Apparel. ’We do see a
slight increase in September and October. But what it’s done is
associate Lee with breast cancer and that’s what we wanted to do.’
In a couple of months, BE&P will begin work on next year’s campaign,
trying to break the record again. Meanwhile, Denim Day continues to make
Wireless vendor links to safety Client: Omnipoint (Bethesda, MD)
PR Team: Toplin & Associates (Philadelphia)
Campaign: Youth Education for Safety (YES) Time Frame: June through
Budget: N/A (dollars 7,000 for materials)
While violence in the classroom is a major national concern, equally as
important is protecting children traveling to and from school, on
playgrounds and on field trips.
The PR team at Philadelphia-based Toplin & Associates turned this safety
concern into an effective community service campaign that not only
raised the profile of its client, Omnipoint, in an important urban
market, but also benefited local schools.
The idea for Omnipoint Youth Education for Safety (YES) came when agency
head Ellen Toplin took note of a new state law that provided grant money
for initiatives to ensure safer schools. Among the measures suggested in
the legislation was the use of telecommunications to improve student
Toplin developed the YES program working with account executive Jennifer
Bilotta and Omnipoint mid-Atlantic marketing communications manager Lisa
The program works with the Philadelphia school district and police
department to provide safe corridor volunteers in schools, on
playgrounds and along routes heavily traveled by students. Omnipoint
donated 23 phones and the wireless service for use by the volunteers,
mostly parents and other family members.
Two schools were used in the pilot project. ’The media advisory that
notified the local press about the kick-off event was written using the
letterhead of the school system to let the press know it was supported
by the schools,’ Bilotta says.
The YES program kicked off with a September 21 event at one pilot
Since it was a community-based program, Toplin focused on local
Two weeks before the event, Bilotta mailed media kits to newspapers, TV
and radio stations. Attendees included the Philadelphia chief of police,
school officials, parents, students and Omnipoint executives. Also on
hand was the Omnipoint mascot, a six-foot parrot, who passed out prizes
The program resulted in solid local media coverage. Three newspapers,
including The Philadelphia Inquirer, ran stories with photos of the
kick-off event. Six local television outlets covered the story on their
evening news programs. Four radio stations, including the leading talk
radio station, did live remotes. All the coverage mentioned Omnipoint’s
The publicity spurred principals at other Philadelphia schools to call
Ominpoint to inquire about joining the program. More importantly, YES
raised Omnipoint’s visibility in the community. . ’In some respects we
may have neglected (Philadelphia) a little recently, so it was really
nice to bring a public relations effort to an area where we had built
our roots two years ago,’ Steinberg says.
The results of the YES pilot program are being evaluated, with the
number of incidents involving students at the participating schools
being compared to previous years to note any reduction. But Steinberg
and Billota said interest from other schools makes it very likely that
the program will be expanded in the coming months.