CAMPAIGNS: NYC2012's efforts mow down rival to seize Olympic bid

PR Team: NYC2012 (New York) and Trylon Communications (New York) Campaign: Bryant Park lawn mural Time Frame: October-November 2002 Budget: Under $1,000 (plus monthly retainer)

PR Team: NYC2012 (New York) and Trylon Communications (New York) Campaign: Bryant Park lawn mural Time Frame: October-November 2002 Budget: Under $1,000 (plus monthly retainer)

The end of October saw the cities of San Francisco and New York duking it out to grab the attention of the US Olympic Committee (USOC), which was set to make its selection of a city to stand as the US' candidate to host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Both cities engaged in a series of media efforts, events, and ads, as the bribery scandal surrounding the 2002 Salt Lake Games prompted rules preventing representatives from potential host cities from directly contacting the USOC. However, one effort in particular, undertaken by Trylon Communications (one of several firms working with NYC2012 on multiple events), caught the attention of New Yorkers and the media alike - and quite likely the USOC. Strategy Tasked with raising grassroots support, Trylon brainstormed ways to show New Yorkers' enthusiasm over the prospect of their city hosting the Games. "The amount of support within the city for the Olympic bid has been extremely high since day one," says Trylon president Lloyd Trufelman, who adds that a recent survey showed that 86% of New Yorkers favor the idea of the Olympics coming to the Big Apple. "There was basically a bake-off between San Francisco and New York in front of the USOC. Both cities did a variety of PR and media, and all sorts of events to show general support in the hope that the USOC would take note of it," explains Trufelman. Tactics NYC2012 and Trylon ultimately agreed that a good way to get attention and display New York's level of support was to mow "NYC2012" into the lawn of Bryant Park. "The whole idea was to show grassroots support for the project," explains Trufelman. "Tens of thousands of people look down on [Bryant Park] from office buildings every day, and all of the news helicopters routinely fly over it. Lo and behold, the idea of spelling out the letters made sense in terms of everything you can do with grass." As it happens, plans to resod the grass were already underway, and the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation agreed to let NYC2012 and Trylon use the lawn. "They said if you can find someone to mow it and etch it, it's yours. You can do with it what you like for the first mow, before we do anything with it," recalls Trylon account executive David Barkoe. After finding a landscaper from Scarsdale to help mow the 50,000-square-foot lawn, Trylon invited the media to a nearby rooftop, 52 stories high, to get the best possible look at it. The hope, of course, was that the USOC would be watching. Results All of the local New York morning shows sent camera crews up high on October 24 - a little more than a week before the final announcement was expected - to get a good look at the Bryant Park lawn. The WB even broadcast a live segment with a reporter on the roof, while CNN and NBC sent camera crews to gather footage to be used in segments after the announcement. "CBS and Fox sent out reports to some of their affiliates all across the country. Our goal was only local coverage, but some chose to push it out," says Barkoe. That may have helped, as the USOC eventually chose New York over San Francisco as the US city to campaign for the right to host the 2012 Summer Olympics. "The lawn mural, in combination with our other Olympic Fever events, created a buzz about the then upcoming USOC decision," says Lazaro Benitez, manager, marketing and communications for NYC2012. "By being in the media spotlight, these initiatives were integral in showing the USOC how enthused New Yorkers are about the possibility of an Olympic Games in New York." Future NYC2012 is currently planning ways to win over the International Olympic Committee before it makes its final decision in 2005. Trylon has an ongoing relationship with NYC2012, and will continue working with the organization on a monthly retainer.

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