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,’
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.
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
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.