Girl Scouts get sales training

Client: Sales Staffers International, Inc. (Andover, MA)

PR Team: Bishoff Solomon Communications (Boston)

Campaign:: Turning Cookies Into Dough

Time Frame:: November 1998

Budget: dollars 40,000

While Girl Scouts may not require training in savvy cookie selling,

Sales Staffers International, Inc. (SSII) proved that it’s never too

early for even the littlest salespeople to sharpen their skills.

The company, which recruits, trains, manages, and deploys sales forces,

was struggling to gain national media attention. SSII’s clients were

unwilling to participate in media relations, eliminating the use of

corporate case studies to generate publicity. Bishoff Solomon

Communications (BSC), which has worked with the company for four years,

wanted to develop a creative vehicle to demonstrate how SSII achieves

results without revealing specific client information.


BSC zeroed in on the annual Girl Scout cookie sale as its vehicle. ’Who

better to work with than probably one of the most recognized sales

forces in the country?’ asks Brad Reichard, BSC SVP. ’It was a perfect


BSC enlisted the support of the Girl Scout Council of Greater New York

(GSCGNY) and created ’Turning Cookies into Dough,’ a sales workshop for

two troops of New York City Girl Scouts, ages 6 to 11, to help the girls

build confidence. SSII’s founder and CEO Bob Stockard and co-founder

Maria Massaro, Stockard’s wife, helped plan and lead the workshop.

’Our goal for this campaign was to build a strong relationship with the

community and to create a good feeling about us as an organization,’

says Stockard.

BSC also wanted to invent an irresistible but genuine news hook to

attract national business media and broadcast outlets; provide a

creative platform for SSII to demonstrate its value to current and

potential clients; and take the dry topic of sales training and find a

new way to interest reporters.


Stockard, an Eagle Scout in his youth, was cast as expert and mentor to

teach the Girl Scouts sales skills. The workshop was held in conjunction

with GSCGNY’s Corporate Cookie Connection Day on November 11, a school

holiday. With only three weeks to prepare, BSC developed educational

materials and promoted the workshop to the media.

The agency developed a ’Cookie Wheel,’ a portable learning tool that the

girls could refer to during the workshop and review new selling


The Empire State Building was selected for the workshop and Corporate

Cookie Connection Day selling activities.

BSC sent a news release with a box of Thin Mints to 77 prime media


The agency created signage and buttons to ensure that SSII’s identity

was featured in photo opportunities. The team also developed briefing

materials to help SSII answer questions from the media about its

capabilities and the workshop’s origin, purpose and sincerity.


SSII secured 181 print, television and radio placements, generating more

than 17 million impressions, including an Associated Press article that

was picked up by 71 outlets across the US, a New York Times color

feature, which ran on the cover of the business page, 18 radio segments

which ran on outlets such as Associated Press Broadcast and Bloomberg

Radio, and WNYW-TV coverage, which ran on 55 television affiliates in 23


The troops sold 1,035 boxes of cookies on Corporate Cookie Connection

Day, a 16% increase from the previous year.

Reichard says in retrospect, he would have worked harder to enlist the

support of the national Girl Scout council and gain wider


’It was a huge logistical problem, but it would have truly fulfilled our

public relations mission and our client’s,’ says Reichard.

The Girl Scouts also walked away with sales techniques that they’ll be

able to use for future sales. The workshop taught them to explain what

the money raised by the cookie sale will be used for; spotlight the

reduced-fat, Big Apple Cinnamon cookie targeted to New Yorkers; and to

upsell, pointing out to customers why they need additional boxes.


BSC is currently working with SSII on a name re-launch for the company

to spotlight its expanded focus, which includes providing localized

content for Web site firms and front-end marketing on strategic


As for the cookie sale, Stockard says he’d like to do more workshops

with Girl Scouts in other locations. ’Our employees are lined up to do

it,’ he says.

Rebecca Flass


New airline uses retro approach

Client: JetBlue Airways (New York, NY) PR team: In-house

Campaign: Launching JetBlue Airways discount airline

Time frame: July 1999

Budget: dollars 30,000

In January 2000, JetBlue Airways will begin offering services from New

York’s JFK International Airport to 44 US cities. Its mission: to offer

discount fares with none of the hassles airline passengers often endure

before and during domestic flights.

’Domestic air travel is in a bad situation today: people are unhappy

with small seats, minimal food, difficulty obtaining reservations, and

the like,’ says Gareth Edmondson-Jones, JetBlue’s director of corporate

communications. ’Our product will be an antidote.’

Several months ago, Edmondson-Jones and Amy Curtis, vice president of

sales and marketing for JetBlue, undertook a ’teaser campaign’ wherein

members of the press were informed through releases that a different

type of domestic carrier would soon make its debut.

The airline was called ’NewAir’ when it first registered with the

Federal Aviation Association. ’But we knew this was only a temporary

moniker,’ claims Edmonson-Jones, and then it was changed to JetBlue.

’Once we settled on a real name, we decided it was the perfect time to

get the word out on who we are and what we represent.’


JetBlue’s objective was to differentiate itself from the pack of

discount airlines. It wanted to portray JetBlue as a brand geared toward

’bringing back the humanity of travel, the more genteel experience seen

in decades past,’ Edmondson-Jones explains. The company also wanted to

give the airline a distinctively edgy, progressive ’personality.’

Consistent with these goals, Edmondson-Jones and Curtis planned a ’name

launch’ event that was held on July 14 at Idlewild - a funky,

airplane-themed bar in New York City’s Lower East Side district.

Idlewild was the original name of the John F. Kennedy Airport. The PR

team thought this venue was perfect because of the bar’s decor - it

looks just like the inside of a 1950s aircraft, complete with real

airline seats. In the ’50s, Edmondson-Jones says, ’flying was primarily

a positive experience’ unlike today.

Tip sheets advising recipients about the ’’New New York Jets Coming to

Town’ were distributed to broadcast and print media several weeks before

the launch date. At its own behest, USA Today ran a profile of JetBlue

CEO David Neeleman in its July 14 edition; a reference to the

announcement of the new name (but not the name itself) was made in the



On July 14, 50 members of the press watched as Neeleman removed the

wrappings from a banner bearing the JetBlue name. The CEO then described

how technology will make JetBlue unlike any carrier and take domestic

air travel to a new level of quality.

Neeleman told the audience that the carrier’s fleet of Airbus A320s

would feature an all-coach configuration, with wider-than-average,

luxurious leather seats and a 32-inch pitch for extra leg room. He added

that seats will tout individual TV monitors with live access to 24

standard and cable channels, a ’first’ for any airline.

Other perks discussed included provisions for making reservations via

the Internet or through a phone system with voice recognition, as well

facilities for flight check-in and seat selection via touch-screen

kiosks at the airport.

’To make things really interesting and drive home technology, we gave a

demonstration of how the TV monitors work, using nine airline seats

connected to a satellite receptor on the roof,’ Edmondson-Jones


Additionally, JetBlue hired World Satellite Television News in New York

to film the launch. Scenes from the event were combined with footage of

actual aircraft and background on the airport facilities, creating a VNR

that was transmitted to TV stations around the country within three

hours of the event’s conclusion.


Collectively, the name launch and the video news release earned the

campaign over 60 million impressions to date, with results still rolling


Of these, more than 35 million were generated through broadcast media;

approximately 25 million, by print media.

New York affiliates of the major networks covered the launch, as did CNN

and MSNBC. Over 450 TV stations nationwide picked up the VNR.

Print coverage appeared in The New York Times, the New York Post and

Newsday, among others. Twelve long-lead periodicals have committed to

publishing information about JetBlue over the next few

months;commitments include feature-length coverage in Travel & Leisure

and Conde Nast Traveler.


Another press event to herald JetBlue’s inaugural flight is currently in

the planning stages. Edmondson-Jones is looking for a venue as unique as

Idlewild to maintain the positioning of JetBlue as a ’one-of-a-kind’


Julie Ritzer Ross


Juice giveaway draws a crowd Client: Swire Coca-Cola (Hong Kong)

PR Team: Leo Burnett/Hong Kong

Campaign: Minute Maid Orange Squad

Time Frame: June to July 1999 Budget: About dollars 100,000

How do you create a media stir in one of the most bustling cities in the

world? And for orange juice, no less?

This was exactly the challenge faced by Swire Coca-Cola and the PR

offshoot of ad agency Leo Burnett when it prepared to launch Minute Maid

orange juice in Hong Kong. According to Hong Kong account director Celia

Yeung, the PR team need to tackle a number of difficult logistics that

included distributing sticky orange juice in 15 high-traffic locations

and keeping trash under control - not a single branded cup was allowed

to be left behind. The agency also had to devise contingency plans that

accounted for the possibility of bad weather and unexpected



The foremost objective for the Minute Maid campaign was to encourage

product trial, as well as to generate public and media awareness of the

brand. According to in-house PR team members and the Leo Burnett/Hong

Kong group, the best means for achieving these was to stage an

attention-grabbing event.


The color orange was used to draw consumers in Hong Kong’s crowded


An ’Orange Squad’ was assembled to distribute cups of juice. Each squad

member wore a fluorescent orange outfit and a ’gravity backpack,’ which

keeps three gallons of juice cold. It also had a high-visibility

graphics panel that displayed ads for Minute Maid juice, to help

consumers recognize the brand while they were sampling. All in all,

about 250,000 cups of juice were distributed to consumers in seven days,

according to Yeung.

In order to drum up media coverage for the Orange Squad event, Leo

Burnett distributed two press releases to local and regional trade

media. There was also a joint media promotion with local newspapers for

free product redemption.


The giveaway resulted in eight hits in top-circulation newspapers - two

featuring interviews with Swire executive director Steve Mason. Coverage

appeared in The Oriental Daily News, the Hong Kong Standard, Tai Kung

Pao, The Sun and the Hong Kong Economic Times.


Since the Orange Squad event, Swire organized several mini-sampling

events and sales of the product have been ’steadily increasing,’ Yeung


Furthermore, due to the success of the Orange Squad sampling, the agency

is planning another similar one, for pink grapefruit juice in August,

says Yeung. ’The mechanics will be pretty much the same, but will be

more targeted in fewer high-traffic locations.’ The ’Grapefruit Guys’

will be wearing - what else - fluorescent pink.

Jan Jaben-Eilon.

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