Weekly analysis of who's doing what and why

Success in the cards for Coke

Client: Coca-Cola USA

PR Team: Shandwick, Minneapolis

Campaign: Cash Cards Offer $12 billion in savings

Timeframe: March 15 to September 7, 1998

Budget: $250,000

While results of a PR campaign are easily measured, the same cannot be said for gauging public image. The Coca-Cola Card summer fun promotion, continued Coke's brand building, using PR tools in specific cities, through participating supermarkets, restaurants, movie theaters and entertainment events.

Seeking to build on the local market success of a similar program in 1997, Coke wanted to expand the card nationally. To do so, they created a national campaign to encourage teenagers to obtain and use the free card for savings.

'It was about how we could connect with teens,' says Diana Garza, PR program manager for Coca-Cola, Atlanta. The Minneapolis office of Shandwick International was used for the PR.

Coke's objective was to extend the value of the card by building awareness about the program. Each card had up to 50 offers.

The centerpiece was a 16-page brochure, The Real Deal: A Summer Survival Guide for Teens. It highlighted summer job ideas, cool web sites and ideas on how to stretch dollars. The brochure was free and available to teens through a toll-free phone number.

Other elements of the program included:

A satellite media tour, where family finance expert Neale Godfrey talked with parents about how teens can be financially responsible, while still having fun.

A national radio tour with actress Melissa Joan Hart, who talked to teens about how they can get the most out of their summer vacation.

'This wasn't some stiff, glossy effort,' said Garza referring to the brochure. 'It was fun. The card is how we were going to connect with teens.'

Hart and Godfrey were used in different ways: Godfrey helped create an easy-to-use budget for teens; while Hart, star of the hit TV show for young people, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, identified with teens on a more basic level.

Coke produced more than 250 localized versions of the card and top teen businesses in each market were identified to be partners. The cards offered $12 billion in discounts. Garza said the program was the most localized, national initiative ever offered by Coca Cola USA. Locally, each bottler formed Teen Card Crews to distribute the cards.

The initial offer of discount Coke cards set the stage for the second annual giveaway of two million ATM cash cards. Kids could actually redeem cash awards of up to $100 if they received a winning card.

There was a summer-long spike of 5-7% for the 20-oz. bottle. Coke distributed 60 million cards and received 3,000 requests for brochures. Both figures exceeded expectations.

Garza credits the right spokespeople, media, products on the card, as well as reaching the parents, as important aspects of the PR effort. Also, Coke received unsolicited requests from schools across the country wanting the brochure as a financial guide for students.

Garza said the 'cool' PR tactics are being touted as the main reason why the program exceeded its original goals.

EVENT MARKETING - Princess sails to a PR victory

Client: Princess Cruises

PR team: Princess Cruises and Porter Novelli

Campaign: Launch of the Grand Princess

Timeframe: May to September 1998

Budget: Not available

In the 1970s, Love Boat served as a free weekly hour-long ad for Princess Cruises. One of its fleet, the Pacific Princess, starred on the show, and millions were humming the tune, 'Come aboard, we've been expecting you,' with a Princess ship in mind - a highly successful product placement.

But Princess is no slouch when it comes to generating excitement from its own end. This launch of its new boat, the Grand Princess - the biggest cruise ship ever - proves its flair for fun and successful PR.

The Grand Princess definitely lives up to its name. Weighing in at over 109,000 tons, it holds 2,600 passengers, is longer than three football fields, wider than the Panama Canal, and taller than the Statue of Liberty.

However, Princess pulled the brilliant trick of giving its travelers the illusion of a small ship with the amenities of a city - all of which continue with the eponymous theme, being either the first-of-its-kind or the largest ever on a ship. In short, the Grand Princess is unlike anything anyone has ever seen.

Both Princess and Porter Novelli needed to let the world know how incredible the Grand Princess is, and have more people salivating to take their vacation on a cruise ship.

The teams knew they had an incredible ship. Likewise, they had won the Silver Anvil in 1997 for their campaign, 'Sea-ing Double,' which introduced two other Princess ships, the Dawn Princess and the Sun Princess. However, the Grand Princess was obviously special, so they faced the challenge of bettering themselves.

In May, the Grand Princess made her maiden voyage from Istanbul to Barcelona.

While the christening and hoopla was saved until September, this trip was crucial to getting the word out about the ship. Press releases were issued and journalists were invited to sail. After the cruise, tongues were wagging, and the stage was set for the big week-long launch celebration in September.

By the time the ship docked in New York, Americans had already caught Princess fever. The success of the movie Titanic, coupled with the return of the Love Boat to prime-time, made everyone cruise crazy. The teams sent out more releases, telling everyone about the week-long festivities planned for the launch.

With so many firsts on the ship, the teams created the theme of record breakers. Celebrities were called upon, including Buzz Aldrin, Rita Moreno, Mark Spitz, and Loretta Lynn. Gavin McLeod, star of the original Love Boat, and Robert Urich, star of the new Love Boat, were also on board.

The christening was performed by actress Olivia de Havilland, once a guest star on Love Boat herself.

A web site chronicled events live, another first for a launch. Again, releases were sent out, and journalists delivered.

Gabriella Mazzucca of Porter Novelli summed up the launch: 'The response was phenomenal.' From May to September, it was never out of the papers.

The ship is sold out through 1999, and the cruise industry has grown 8% in the last year.

The four-month campaign generated more than a year's worth of bookings.

Also, the Grand Princess launch was hugely instrumental in getting people excited about taking a cruise on any ship.

Staff communications - Sowing seeds of a new vision

Client: Asgrow/Hartz Seed (Des Moines, IA)

PR Team: Morgan & Myers

Campaign: 'An innovation for every farm'

Timeframe: November1997 to present

Budget: Not available

Asgrow Seed and Hartz Seed merged last year under the umbrella of the diversified global chemicals and agricultural giant, Monsanto. This required a total revision of the new seed company's mission. In the process, the vision statement, 'An innovation for every farm,' was developed. It has become the rallying cry of staff, the focus of their work, and the driving force behind research and development.

In summer 1997, when Monsanto bought Asgrow and combined it with Hartz Seed, it moved the new company to Des Moines. The new top management team, under co-presidents K. Danny Kennedy and John Schillinger, and Michael T. Kinley, vice president of global strategies, developed a new vision. Morgan & Myers, a PR firm with offices in Milwaukee and Waterloo, IA, was integrally involved in the birth, adolescence and communications of this vision.

To build on the strength of three merged cultures and provide employeees with a unified company direction.

First, the management and the PR team held a brainstorming session and refined the vision statement. The old company's mission, 'An Asgrow sign on every farm,' evolved to 'An innovation for every farm,' symbolizing leadership, science, and creativity. The new headquarters was redecorated to feature the vision and reflect its meaning to the company.

Then, the team conducted a benchmark study with employees, '65% of whom thought they understood the vision. But no one could state it,' reported Carol Ward Knox, APR, executive vice president and principal, Morgan & Myers. '70% of employees were dissatisfied with staff communications and 66% were unsure of their role in the company. People were hungry for attention and fearful of management changes,' she said.

New to Des Moines, Asgrow hosted a media event/open house on November 19, 1997. It attracted 25-30 agri-press, which, according to Knox, was 'the cream of the crop.' A number of seed dealers also attended the event, which was a 'huge success' in Kennedy's view.

Unfortunately, major media coverage was limited because the date coincided with the birth of the McCaughey septuplets.

The next step was to get employees to buy into the new vision and incorporate it into their work. The new slogan became the watchword for staff communications and team meetings worldwide, said Janine Whipps, APR, senior counselor and principal, Morgan & Myers.

On-site meetings for all employees required a huge commitment from the management. The co-presidents spoke at many in-plant meetings, but each location had a local employee as site champion. Workshops focused on how the slogan could be incorporated in day-to-day operations. Staff would meet in small groups, then share their views in a larger meeting. These sessions produced valuable feedback, according to Whipps.

As part of the rollout, a color workbook was distributed to staff, who were encouraged to hold follow-up meetings on-site. An electronic newsletter, Asgrow/Hartz News, is now in the field, featuring staff 'living the new corporate vision.'

The development of the vision and rollout to employees has gone very well,' says Kinley. 'We've incorporated the vision into all employee communications, including a national sales conference, our internal newsletter and a corporate brochure that's used for recruiting new employees. It's becoming part of our every day work environment and that's what needed to happen.'

The management and the PR team are conducting follow-up research with staff to compare employee attitidues with those of a year ago. The team is also developing a reward system that reflects the vision and staff commitment to it. 'It's not a one-year thing,' concluded Whipps. The vision seems to be the engine to power Asgrow/ Hartz Seed into the new millennium.

Product launch- iMac Attack! Apple returns

Client: Apple Computer

PR team: Edelman Worldwide

Campaign: iMac Introduction at Retail

Timeframe: Launched August 15, 1998 (announced May 6)

Budget: $100 million combined advertising campaign

On August 15, 1998, Apple Computer launched its futuristic new iMac with a $100 million media campaign aimed at high-end consumers.

Apple's share of the consumer market had shrunk to just 2% (source: CI Infocorp) and this was its first serious attempt in years to compete.

To alert press and consumers to iMac's arrival in retail outlets from August 15.

An extensive coordinated advertising and publicity campaign was mounted.

A 20-foot-high blimp in the shape of the iMac popped up at many locations in the US and in other major cities around the world.

Stores celebrated iMac's arrival. Authorized resellers, like Comp USA, MacWarehouse, MacConnection, ComputerWare and Computer Town, hosted special events and demonstrations.

The promotion was picked up in USA Today, San Francisco Examiner, Boston Globe, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, San Diego Union Tribune, Detroit Free Press and the Toronto Sun. National trade press included Business Week, the NY Times and Wall Street Journal. Trade magazine coverage included PC Week, Computer Retail Week, Creative Computers, Mac Times and Macworld.

Extensive coverage also appeared on the Internet.

The iMac has been flying off the shelves around the country. In October, Apple announced that 278,000 units were sold during its first six weeks on sale (to September 26), making it the fastest-selling Mac ever. Most US dealers sold out of their first shipment in a few hours. Apple hasn't yet caught up with demand.

'The iMac has been a real energizer for the whole company,' says spokeswoman Rhona Hamilton. 'It's a chance to show a creative side that hasn't been seen in the past. We are thrilled consumers have had the same response to the iMac as our employees.'

The machine is also a hit with first-time computer users. Over 40% of iMac buyers are new Apple customers, according to a survey by Audits & Surveys. Findings show 29.4% of iMac buyers are first-time computer buyers, while 12.5% are 'converts' from PC Wintel machines.

By rushing the iMac to market, Apple succeeded in getting on the radar screens of buyers before the next school year starts. Educators are also tuning in. Many of the new iMac buyers are teachers.

In October, Apple announced its support for the 1998 Computer Learning Month, with a special program that gave a new iMac to an educator each day during the month.

Everything came together for Apple from a PR, marketing, advertising and engineering perspective.

For the first time in years, Apple's sales are growing faster than the industry average. Sales of the iMac have just propelled Apple to its fourth consecutive profitable quarter. Profits are $109 million for the fiscal fourth quarter ending September 25. 'Apple is back at break-even, says analyst James Staten of Dataquest.

News of robust sales pushed Apple's shares up, and stock, which had bottomed at $12.75 a share, now trades at $37. The company hasn't seen a comparable jump in market share in about a decade.

The initial flurry of sales are starting to taper off somewhat, but resellers are still basking in the afterglow of a positive attitude toward Apple's viability.

The media push will continue through Christmas.

The iMac has been one of Apple's most successful product launches. From a PR and advertising perspective, it has been plain sailing.

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