Weekly analysis of who's doing what and why

The public had just about given up on this prominent but decaying NY neighbor, until the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Metro-North took over Grand Central Terminal's operations in the mid-80s.

A new look for an old station

Client: Grand Central Terminal Venture (GCTV)

PR Team: The Kreisberg Group

Campaign: Grand Central Terminal Restoration and Rededication

Timeframe: May 1997 - Spring 1999

Budget: Not available

The public had just about given up on this prominent but decaying NY neighbor, until the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Metro-North took over Grand Central Terminal's operations in the mid-80s. Planning took a long time, but by 1994 a comprehensive restoration was approved and begun. Restoration for the grand mural depicting the heavens above the Main Concourse was completed in 1997, with a state-of-the-art fiber optic star lighting system illuminating the constellations.

'This project was about connecting,' admits Luisa Kreisberg, president and founder of the Kreisberg Group.

'Our mission was to allow the public to experience this magnificent port of entry as ceremonial.'

She credits the entire team with a commitment to transforming the terminal from a pit stop into a retail and tourist mecca that would bolster the city's economy.

To capture the project's theme, the agency developed the slogan: 'Uniquely Grand Totally Central,' signifying the station's importance to NY.

To restore Grand Central Station to its full capacity.

In May 1997, the PR team developed a series of PR initiatives culminating in two significant public events: a formal rededication of the terminal in October 1998 and opening of retail stores in spring 1999.

The party to reintroduce the public to the Main Concourse attracted lots of media. The event featured a laser light show, the world premiere of a new orchestral work entitled Grand Central and a trapeze performance by a member of the Big Apple Circus. A VNR of the proceedings was subsequently transmitted via satellite to media outlets.

The event received media coverage nationwide, in both print and televised outlets. On a recent Sunday, tourists could be seen examining the restored terminal and shopping at a holiday crafts fair installed for the season.

This campaign demonstrates the effectiveness of a small but focused and tasteful PR team. With limited budget and virtually no advertising other than posters bearing the clever slogan, the Kreisberg Group and its PR partners from the MTA successfully revived interest in an 85 year old New Yorker.

Event marketing
Aquarium opens with a splash

Client: The Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific

PR Team: In-House and Wills Communications

Campaign: Grand Opening

Timeframe: June 18-20, 1998

Budget: $150,000

The opening of the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific marked the first stage of a $650 million revitalization project for the city of Long Beach, California. Fourth largest in the country, the aquarium is home to more than 10,000 marine species from the Pacific Ocean. It serves not only as an attraction but also as an environmental, educational, scientific and community resource. It is the only aquarium in the US dedicated solely to marine life in the Pacific Ocean.

A year prior to the grand opening, the PR team researched, identified and created specialized pitches for targeted media. In addition to several soft openings, two high-profile opening events were planned - an official dedication/media opening ceremony and the public grand opening.

To get maximum media attention for the opening of this new world-class attraction.

With a limited promotion budget, the campaign was heavy on person-hours and lacking in any high-tech gadgets or stunts. An aggressive phone and mail barrage produced a series of behind-the-scenes stories that built pre-opening excitement. Stories on how sea predators were collected, how habitats were created and impressions from hard-hat tours taken during the construction phase appeared in USA Today and on CBS This Morning.

An L.A. Times reporter even took a tank dive.

For the official dedication/media opening on June 18, dignitaries from 20 Pacific Rim countries attended a staged ceremony, promoting the Pacific Ocean as a uniting force. A child from each country made an official dedication to 'our ocean ... our world' while pouring a cup of sea water collected from the shore of their homeland into a communal barrel. The Mayor of Long Beach dedicated the facility and California Attorney General Dan Lungren read a surprise congratulatory letter from President Clinton.

That night, a $500-per-person inaugural gala drew a crowd of 700 and raised $250,000 for the aquarium.

Broadcasts of the official dedication and grand opening appeared on NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America and CNN, and articles appeared in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and hundreds of local newspapers and magazines across the country.

A satellite media tour was widely distributed and featured live interviews with divers submerged underwater. The SMT received an award from the Public Relations Society of America's Los Angeles Chapter.

The public opening on June 20 welcomed a crowd of 12,000, most of whom waited patiently in lines for hours, since the aquarium's capacity is 2,300. As for local attendance, membership has escalated from 25,000 on opening day to close to 50,000 in November. An updated web site, the arrival of new species and ongoing family and environmental programs continue to attract repeat business and position the aquarium as a premier educational and scientific center.

Minor problems failed to spoil the aquarium's big moment. For instance, no high-profile politician was available to attend the opening, but Clinton's telegram made up for that.

The challenge now is to sustain momentum during the winter and ensuing months. Attendance, media impressions and public opinion continue to exceed all expectations.

Integrated marketing
Star Trek phone cards blast off

Client: AT&T

PR Team: In-house

Campaign: AT&T Star Trek PrePaid Card

Timeframe: January 1998 and ongoing

Budget: Not available

One of America's most down-to-earth corporations recently proved that the sky's the limit with initiative. AT&T, partnering with Future Call, a phone card company, launched the first of a series of Star Trek prepaid phone cards last February. In November, they followed up with a new series featuring scenes from Paramount Pictures' ninth Star Trek movie, Star Trek: Insurrection.

The prepaid cards, guaranteed by AT&T to 'make it easy and fun for Trekkers and non-Trekkers alike to connect to other Earthlings,' afforded the company a chance to have fun while breaking through a market ridden with competitors.

To support the introduction of Star Trek prepaid phone cards in every marketing vehicle - retail stores, TV home shopping, hotels, the Internet, and by phone - with PR, including a satellite media tour and strong publicity.

William Shatner, Captain Kirk of Star Trek fame, is a majority stock holder in Future Call. He was used as the spokesperson, which added veracity to the campaign.

Successful prepaid card sales increase minutes of AT&T long distance usage. The Star Trek theme helps differentiate the AT&T brand both from other long-distance providers and prepaid card vendors.

Confirms AT&T manager of PR Gordon Diamond: 'Prepaid cards rank second only to cash as a favorite give-away among consumers.'

In February AT&T collaborated with Future Call to announce the first in a series of Star Trek prepaid cards for April 1 availability through a number of retail outlets, including Red Roof Inns, Seven-Eleven stores, the Internet and a toll-free 800 number.

Targeting entertainment, lifestyle, sci-fi and trade media, AT&T held a two-way audio news conference hosted by Shatner and transmitted the proceedings via satellite as Shatner placed his first prepaid card call to AT&T chairman and CEO C. Michael Armstrong.

To inaugurate the card's availability, AT&T - using its own AT&T WorldNet Service - scheduled an online chat session with Shatner and provided hot links to the Star Trek site on its home page.

Meanwhile, Shatner hosted a separate Star Trek chat session in which he invited Trekkies to purchase the prepaid cards.

QVC and the Home Shopping Network sold framed limited sets of the original card series. AT&T PrePaid Cards ranked among the most popular items on the shows.

In yet another PR coup, Rosie O'Donnell tossed the cards to her studio audience, and recently the card has been made available on the Science Fiction Network.

For the next card series derived from the new Star Trek movie, the company is sponsoring a special promotion until January 31, 1999. Callers entering the PIN number on their Star Trek: Insurrection AT&T PrePaid Card will find out whether they have won one of several prizes, including an all-expense paid trip to the Star Trek: The Experience attraction at the Las Vegas Hilton and Casino.

Retail outlets will include participating Barnes & Noble college bookstores and Chevron convenience stores, as well as AT&T Stores nationwide.

Launch publicity for the card received wide coverage in the entertainment media, wire service outlets, industry trades, science fiction journals and 'collectible' magazines.

Shatner's accessibility created opportunities with Late Night with Conan O'Brien, CBS This Morning, The New York Times and Westwood One Radio.

Shatner himself has proved an ideal spokesperson. Even when making celebrity appearances, Shatner takes time to promote the card and has expressed enthusiasm for his company's alliance with AT&T. Shatner concedes that 'I am proud to associate the Star Trek brand with the global leader in communications - the fusion of science fiction and science fact.'

The successful PR campaign coupled with wide retail availability have created demand among consumers, many of whom buy the cards for collection purposes only. AT&T has boosted its brand with a popular entertainment product while Future Call has benefited from its affiliation with AT&T.

According to Future Call CEO Gordon Walker, 'We chose AT&T because we think the company has the global leadership to take on the future, and that's what we're all about.'

Product launch
Making Lion King II reign

Client: Buena Vista Home Entertainment

PR Team: Golin/Harris

Campaign: Marketing Communications for Lion King II: Simba's Pride

Timeframe: February - December 1998

Budget: Not available

In the video event of the year, Disney's The Lion King II: Simba's Pride made its majestic world premiere exclusively on home video on October 27, 1998. As a preview, Walt Disney records released Return to Pride Rock a month before the film, featuring seven new songs from the film.

One of the most highly-anticipated sequels ever, the new film reunites an all-star vocal cast from The Lion King, the number one animated movie and best selling video of all time.

This classic epic continues the adventures of characters that kids and families know and love. Merchandising tie-ins and displays at zoos all over the country helped boost awareness of the new video. A celebrity premiere and great pre-release media hype brought Lion King loyals pouncing into video stores the minute The Lion King II: Simba's Pride hit the shelves. The title sold out the first day in many markets.

The media plan to support this direct-to-video title was similar to the launch of a feature film. Special events, tie-in deals in grocery stores, retail merchandising and publicity augmented a broad reaching, multi-media advertising campaign. The launch campaign was in full force by September in print, TV, radio and out-of-home as well as non-traditional media.

The campaign will continue to roll out during the holiday season and receive media support in mid-December.

To create awareness of and demand for the home video premiere of The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. To reach key target audiences, including retailers, parents and children, via merchandising, advertising and public relations.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment (BVHE) rolled out a theatrical style publicity campaign to generate awareness and excitement for the release of the video. Since its first direct-to-video release, The Return of Jafar, Disney has worked to elevate the perception of its straight-to-video product. This included announcing the release date of Lion King II and voice talent featured in the film eight months prior to its release.

In early spring, the entertainment press was offered a first look at the animation and songs from the movie. This continued over the next several months. Behind the scenes footage with voice talent was shot to create an electronic press kit, which was sent to national and local entertainment and news programs a few weeks before the release date. Golin/Harris worked on the campaign almost a year, doing field media outreach and logistics to get coverage in the top 20-30 markets.

Disney's BVHE unit hosted a press junket. widely attended by the media, one month prior to the release date.

Disney also hosted a grass roots campaign in over 40 zoos across the country. Point of purchase advertising, offering kids a chance to win their own copy of Lion King II, was posted in zoo gift shops. There was even a sweepstakes giving families a chance to win a Simba's Pride party in their own home.

Top newspapers and syndicated columnists got phone interviews with the filmakers.

A great deal of publicity surrounded the street date. A star-studded theatrical style premiere was hosted by Disney to generate additional press. More than 1,000 celebs, their families and special guests were treated to a real-life African safari complete with a menagerie of lions, tigers and elephants.

An extensive web site was launched around the street date which offered artwork, games and the opportunity to purchase the title through Disney's online shop.

Special offers on popular packaged goods were also arranged. Various The Lion King II: Simba's Pride characters and scenes from the video appear on Welch's 10-oz. collectible jelly glasses, with a consumer offer attached to larger sizes. General Mills cereal also has a tie-in with on-box exposure for Lion King II. Consumers who buy Lion King II Lever 2000 products are eligible to receive a $5 rebate by mail.

Consumers who purchase another Disney video at the same time as The Lion King II get a $5 rebate. The Lion King II: Simba's Pride was cross promoted in trailers on other Disney kid videos.


Reviews of the movie have been overwhelmingly positive. Simba's Pride currently reigns in top video sales across the country. It is also the fourth highest rated sell-thru video at US Blockbuster stores as of November 15.

The video was so well pre-sold at Disney stores across the country that it sold out on the release date, October 27. Premiums including a lithograph and a choice of a Pumbaa or Kiara puppet, two of the video characters, were offered as incentives for Simba's Pride purchases. Exciting in-store merchandising support includes standees, posters, shelf-talkers, buttons and 'paw print' static clings.

At Disney's third largest store in the company, in the heart of New York's Times Square, The Lion King II is one of their biggest sellers. One-third of the store's Lion King Broadway show room is currently dedicated to Lion King II merchandise, including toys, plush animals and children's clothing.

Disney is committed to producing high-quality, family entertainment, produced for a 'premiere' on home video, BVHE sources say. Several more direct-to-video movies are currently in production, including a sequel to The Little Mermaid and Lady and the Tramp.

According to one Disney spokesperson, The Return of Jafar, a sequel to Aladdin, sold over 11 million units.

It may be a jungle out there, but at the moment The Lion King II: Simba's Pride reigns. With all the integrated marketing behind it, it is likely to leap past the sales of The Return of Jafar. Lion King II already leaving kids and families roaring for more.

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