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New Media - Web site lures college-bound

New Media ? Web site lures college-bound

Client: Peterson's (Princeton, NJ)
PR Team: Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide (Washington, DC)
Campaign: CollegeQuest
Time Frame: December to August 1998 Budget: dollars 125,0000

From the sale of pink ribbons, mugs, and pens, Avon has raised an impressive dollars 32 million for breast cancer over the last six years. Its Breast Cancer Awareness Crusade supports non-profit, community-based programs that provide women with access to breast cancer education and early detection services.

Last year Avon decided to step up the campaign with an event that had the potential to raise millions of dollars, while increasing awareness of breast cancer and the importance of early detection. In addition, the event would publicize Avon's commitment to fighting the disease.

Together with Los Angeles event organizer Pallotta Team-Works, Avon devised the Breast Cancer 3-Day, a 60-mile charity walk from Santa Barbara to Malibu. PR firm Bragman Nyman Cafarelli (BNC) was hired to provide maximum publicity.

BNC sought to establish the walk as a life-changing experience for the participants. It also wanted to gain national publicity with the hope of expanding the event across the US the following year. 'We wanted to differentiate ourselves and position the event as unique,' says SAE Samantha Farrar at BNC.

Avon and BNC realized they would have to constantly reinforce the key message of the event ? not just to the media, but to Avon representatives and the walkers themselves.

'We wanted to underline the fact that this walk was about stressing the importance of early detection, not just funding breast cancer research,' says Pat Sterling, manager of the Avon Breast Cancer Awareness Crusade. 'The media is sometimes not in tune with this.'

BNC decided to make the walkers the heroes of the event, focusing on the impact of breast cancer on their lives as well as their commitment to the walk. At the same time, the agency planned to recruit journalists to participate in the event, so they could cover it from a personal point of view and gain a first-hand understanding of the issues surrounding breast cancer.

All of the 2,300 people who registered for the event were asked to complete a questionnaire asking them about their lives and their motivation for taking part. Those with the most compelling stories were picked as 'media walkers' and coached in delivering the event's key messages alongside their own experiences. They were also given special branded shirts to wear during interviews. 'When the press came along, we could point them in the direction of these people,' explains Sterling.

Avon representatives were encouraged to take part in the event. Their profiles were included in the press kits to emphasize the company's involvement.

The kits also profiled walkers from different parts of the country, to create local angles and generate nationwide coverage.

Meanwhile, a VIP mailing was sent out to journalists who were interested in health issues or breast cancer specifically. usuing a creative twist, the package included a pair of walking shoes. During the run-up to the event, local media along the route were alerted so they could encourage communities to come out and cheer the walkers on.

Throughout the event, a PR team was on hand to ensure journalists that had access to all relevant information and were able to file their stories easily.

'We always knew the event had media-genic appeal,' says Sterling. 'After all, a small, mobile city of 2,300 people walking 60 miles over three days is not just an event, it's a logistical extravaganza. But we didn't really know what to expect. In the end, the reaction was stupendous. The agency did an amazing job.'

According to Sterling, more than 90 million people saw or read about Avon's Breast Cancer 3-Day. Pre-event coverage was generated by a training walk in August, which was picked up by three Los Angeles stations: KABC, KCAL, and KTTV. The same stations also covered a training exercise at Avon's Pasadena facility in early October.

The event itself generated more than 100 TV stories in 30 media markets across the country. The 'media walkers' received extensive coverage and successfully conveyed Avon's key messages.

Five journalists participated in the event as part of their coverage: KTTV anchor Christine Devine, Vivian Tamayo of KEYT (ABC Santa Barbera), Dr Karen Enberg of the Santa Barbara News Press, Lisa Angela of the Glendale News Press, and Deborah Kupetz of the Los Angeles Times.

KTTV (Fox Los Angeles) made a 30-minute documentary, which subsequently won the American Women in Radio and Television's Gracie Allen award for best documentary. Post-walk coverage was also generated by a reunion held on January 17.

Most importantly, the walk generated dollars 5 million for breast education and early detection programs across the US.

BNC was once again retained to handle PR for this year's event, which has been expanded to four cities. The Chicago walk took place in June, a New York event will be held in August and walkers will take to the streets of Atlanta and Los Angeles in October.

Mark Tungate

EVENT MARKETING ? Linking up with Mandalay Bay

Client: Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino
PR Team: In-house
Campaign: Resort opening
Time Frame: March 1999
Budget: Estimated at dollars 20,000

Las Vegas has had no shortage of high-profile hotel launches these past few months. But Bill Doak, director of PR and promotions at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, had no fear that journalists would find this a boring 'same again' story.

'We knew that our resort had many features that would have national presence and profile,' says Doak. The tropically themed resort, located on the Las Vegas 'strip' offers 3,300 rooms and suites. Included in the resort is a 424-room Four Seasons Hotel, which occupies the 35th to 39th floors of Mandalay Bay. The property has 15 restaurants, a spa and an 11-acre tropical water environment comprised of a beach, lazy river, pools and a running track.

A variety of celebrities and attractions touted the virtues of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in not one, but five simultaneous SMTs that aired back-to-back on the resort's opening night. 'We wanted to use TV as the mechanism to launch the grand opening of our billion-dollar resort,' says Doak. New York-based Medialink produced the SMTs, while CoverEdge of Las Vegas provided technical support. Medialink also created a VNR for the Mandalay grand opening.

The use of TV as a promotional vehicle was planned from the ground up, Doak explains. 'We fully fibered and cabled the property to ensure that we would be TV-ready,' he says. 'CoverEdge ensured that we would be TV-ready. They supplied crews, trucks and equipment to staff nine different live locations from which we broadcasted on opening night.' Planning for the extensive TV coverage began approximately one and a half years prior to opening day, Doak notes.

The SMTs started airing at 4am Pacific Time, beginning with the Two Hot Tamales, chefs from the TV Food Network. At 2pm, the last SMT aired, featuring Dan Akroyd, James Belushi, and John Goodman promoting the House of Blues club. In between, a segment featuring stars Ben Vereen and Chita Rivera from the hit Broadway show Chicago aired from the resort's main showroom.

In addition to the celebrity performances and interviews, two other SMTs featured interviews with resort executives, including the CEOs of the Four Seasons and Circus Circus companies, which jointly run the property.

The SMTs and the VNR were part of the resort's total PR efforts, which included additional television broadcasts from the resort. 'We made the property available to TV affiliates around the country,' says Doak. With the help of CoverEdge, Mandalay was able to offer all the technical support for the TV stations. 'All they had to do was bring (their own announcers as) talent,' Doak notes. Mandalay arranged for the satellite time, trucks and crews.

The SMTs generated approximately 6.8 million viewers, in 16 markets on 29 station/broadcast groups. In addition, there were 24 top-20 market usages and two national/international news feeds, reports Medialink.

The VNR recorded 274 total usages, with 50.3 million viewers, according to Medialink. The VNR was distributed five times on March 2 and 3, 1999 and was picked up by 134 station/broadcast groups in 64 markets. There were 116 top 20 market usages, the company reports.

The story was covered in major cities including Los Angeles, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Fresno, Doak reports.

'This was something I had seen another Las Vegas resort do for its opening,' Doak explains.

Since the opening, PR efforts for the hotel have centered on attractions and events, Doak says. 'We have continued to approach specific media related to entertainment, fitness, travel, food, and sports,' he adds.

Future attractions include the Radio Music Awards in October, DelaHoya-Trinidad boxing match in November, and Bette Midler's performance on New Year's Eve. Also, the development of a 1 million square-foot mall to connect the resort complex with Circus' Luxor hotel-casino will also help draw visitors, predicts Glenn Schaeffer, the president of Circus Circus.

Debra S. Hauss

PRODUCT REPOSITIONING ? The incredible, edible egg

Client: California Egg Commission (Upland, CA)
PR Team: Evans, Hardy & Young (Santa Barbara)
Campaign: Jonathan Winters for California Fresh Eggs Time Frame: March to December 1998
Budget: Negligible

Who says eggs are bad for you? Jonathan Winters says in fact, that they're good for you. As the spokesperson for the The California Egg Commission (CEC) and the Fresh Eggs campaign, the comedian has been conveying positive messages about eggs to the public.

Following a decade of declining shell egg consumption, the Commission realized it was time to correct the libel against eggs and change the public's perception that they were a health threat.

Extensive in-home research indicated that, although nearly every household refrigerator contained eggs, they were rarely considered a meal option and seldom eaten because of concerns regarding cholesterol. As a result, egg sales were declining or at best, remaining static.

CEC's agency, Evans, Hardy & Young (EH&Y), cooked up a campaign to convince consumers that eggs are nutritious, delicious and versatile. To get the most out of its limited budget, it focused on ways to use PR to parlay the impact of TV commercials.

To capture the attention of young, old, and current egg buyers, as well as lapsed consumers, EH&Y cast the versatile Winters as the spokesman for its TV spots. 'We chose Winters for his ability to appeal to all types of audiences with his unique and entertaining improvisational comedy,' says agency AE Kristin Preis. 'Plus, the leverage of a celebrity and the innovative, no-script-commercial concept provided a prime public relations tool and set the stage for publicity possibilities.'

To maximize those possibilities, the PR firm researched opportunities to create viewer interest and involvement and transform the common place egg into a fascinating product.

After initiating discussions with several popular TV program executives, EH&Y developed three national venues for PR coverage of the ad campaign worth a claimed dollars 500,000 worth of additional, free exposure, based on equivalent ad value. Excerpts and a description of the ad spots found a place in A&E Network's nationally broadcast biography of Winters. Outtakes from the commercial shoot were shown on Dick Clark's TV Bloopers, which aired nationally on NBC. And when Winters made a guest appearance on The Tonight Show, Jay Leno featured portions of the spots and Winters talked about his work for California Fresh Eggs, which included his ad-libbed line: 'You can't beat eggs; you can scramble them, though.'

By midyear, the PR/ad campaign had exceeded its original goals. For the first time in 10 years, shell egg per capita consumption in California was up a dramatic 3.2% over the same period the year before. That means more than 114 million more eggs were eaten in the state.

By year's end, the figure rose to an 'amazing' 171 million, according to Preis, representing increased retail sales of more than dollars 28 million.

The real growth, says Preis, is equally impressive when compared to that of the entire nation. For the first six months of 1998, national egg consumption, excluding California, was up a marginal 1.2%. The Golden State more than doubled that amount for the same period.

So the real increase was in California, which was a localized change and not simply a national trend. The audience exposure of Jonathan Winters is estimated at 15 million households, including 718,000 in California.

According to the PR firm, it will produce a similar campaign in 1999.

And that's 'eggsactly' what the doctor ordered.

Alvin M. Hattal

PRODUCT REPOSITIONING ? Mr. Peanut hits the road

Client: Nabisco (Parsippany,NJ)
PR Team: In-house; Marketing Werks (Chicago)
Campaign: Mr. Peanut's Hot Rod tour
Time Frame: March 1999 to August 1999
Budget: Not available

As the official snack of National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR), Planters commissioned a car in the shape of Mr. Peanut, a classic character who has been around since 1916, to follow the NASCAR auto racing tour this summer.

The promotion focused on positioning the nuts as a mainstream snack.

'We wanted Planters and Planters peanuts in particular, to become something that people would associate with sitting around the house and watching a sporting event, much in the way that potato chips and pretzels are thought of,' says Ann Smith, Planters director of marketing.

The aim, said Albert Fernando of Marketing Werks, who handled the Mr. Peanuts' Hot Rod tour, was 'to reposition Planters as a younger company,' as well as complement the 'Relax, Go Nuts!' advertising campaign. According to Smith, the decision to focus on NASCAR was based on research that concluded that the fan base ? a young, middle-American crowd ? was exactly the type of market that Planters wanted to target.

In addition to being the official snack of NASCAR, Planters is sponsoring three of the circuit drivers: Dale Jarrett, Ricky Rudd, and Bobby LaBonte.

Tactics The campaign started off with a trip to the National Collegiate Athletic Associa-tion Final Four basketball tournament. After stops in several major cities, the Mr. Peanut car began following the NASCAR tour. Throughout this campaign, Mr. Peanut has been the centerpiece of both the PR and marketing strategies. The specially designed vehicle, which measured 25 feet long and 8 feet wide, was equipped to conduct a live remote for broadcasting.

It featured computers on which users could play games, check out the company history, read profiles of the Planters-sponsored NASCAR drivers, and information on the construction of the car.

The campaign has relied on Mr. Peanut's Hot Rod to generate PR, while not being overly aggressive with advertising. Planters also wanted to establish the Hot Rod as more than merely a NASCAR entity. This was accomplished early during the Final Four trip, and has continued with several detours from the NASCAR tour throughout the summer.

The Hot Rod received early morning coverage on a number of local TV stations that included WGN Chicago and St. Louis Fox affiliate KTVI. According to Fernando, several stations did entire shows out of the Hot Rod.

The car also got an unexpected boost from radio - the story was featured on stations such as WVUE New Orleans, WLLD Tampa, FL, and WTVR Richmond, VA. Smith says the campaign has succeeded in repositioning Planters as a younger company. 'The Hot Rod has a stand-alone property in that it does not need to be associated with one particular campaign. Its versatility is a huge asset.

'We felt we could utilize the car beyond appearances at NASCAR events,' he adds.

'It is also making appearances at retail and charity events. The car and the campaign have been highly successful in receiving both positive consumer feedback as well as good media coverage.'

According to Fernando, the car was ideal for local, early morning news shows. 'It has the friendly, comforting image that would inspire a 'feel good' piece, but it also has enough intrigue and technology to hold the viewers' interest. It is really a remarkable vehicle and that comes across on television.'

He adds that Planters was pleased that the car enhanced consumer and trade promotion.

While Planters may not focus on next summer's NASCAR tour,Smith says, it is a safe bet that the Hot Rod will be a part of the company's marketing future. 'If not NASCAR, the Hot Rod will be used with other campaigns.

We may associate ourselves with other sports, such as cart racing, extreme sports, or perhaps professional baseball or soccer,' Smith predicts.

Alex Simon

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