CAMPAIGNS: Media Relations - H&H opening has Oscar-caliber PR

Client: TrizecHahn Developers (Toronto, Canada)

PR Team: Bragman Nyman Cafarelli

Campaign: Grand opening of Hollywood and Highland

Time Frame: April 2000 - present

Budget: Over $500,000

Canadian developer Trizec-Hahn began constructing a controversial retail

complex dubbed Hollywood and Highland (H&H) on a famously seedy corner

of Los Angeles more than three years ago, but it was Eastman Kodak's

decision to build a $94 million special-events hall in the center

- now the official home of the Academy Awards - that sparked advance

buzz. TrizecHahn hired Bragman Nyman Cafarelli (BNC) more than a year

before the center's grand opening to position H&H as not just someplace

to shop, but as an important destination for tourists, locals, and

Hollywood's elite - despite its location in a marginal area.


There were two words that BNC immediately banned from the campaign:

shopping mall.

"When people would say that, we would say, 'Absolutely not,'" explains

BNC's Doug Piwinski, who led the account. "What shopping mall has the

Academy Awards?"

Since BNC was in charge of publicity for H&H's many tenants (more than

70 retail shops, high-profile restaurants, movie theaters, and event

space), one of the goals was to ensure that harmonious messages were

being delivered from all parties.

In addition, city agencies such as the mayor's office and the public

transit system were involved. BNC's mission was to make sure each of

these outlets coordinated through Piwinski's team.


Along with the internal strategy, BNC planned an ambitious grassroots

outreach to a wide array of media outlets to ensure that the grand

opening was heavily covered. They pitched H&H to reporters covering

architecture, real estate, fashion, entertainment, food, travel,

business, metro, and arts - all with the idea that their publications

would be missing out on a legendary moment if they passed on the story.

"We pitched it as history being made," says Piwinski.

BNC set up a protocol for dealing with the media, which covered

everything from "press releases to special events to outreach," says

Piwinski. "We tried to make sure we had a real say in some of the other

parties involved" - a tough task with press-savvy players on hand. BNC

also made sure that each organization had a spokesperson who understood

TrizecHahn's message.

Piwinski then began inviting media for tours of the facility, and

providing special "sneak previews" for high-profile outlets like

Entertainment Tonight.

The fall 2001 grand opening - where BNC had an onsite team of 28 people

watching over 41 camera crews and 120 print reporters - ran over a long

weekend, with special events taking place each day. To handle the

multi-day opening, BNC built a media tent on Hollywood Blvd. to provide

reporters with communications equipment. But the public was left out of

the festivities: "We intentionally did not promote (the opening) with

the general public because we did not want anyone to call in a threat,"

explains Piwinski.


"It literally was like a press kit in the pages of the LA Times and USA

Today," extols Piwinski on some of the coverage. The LA Times ran eight

feature stories on various aspects of H&H, while USA Today ran a

full-page feature with drawings of the floor plans and listings of the


Entertainment Tonight held a special half-hour on-location broadcast,

complete with aerial shots. It even got a couple of mentions from Jay

Leno. Other press included features in Business Week, The New York

Times, The Financial Times, CNN, Movieline, Access Hollywood, AP, NPR,

and others.

"That night, I felt the greatest sense of accomplishment I've ever had

as a PR professional," says Piwinski of the grand opening. And as for

the client's response, TrizecHahn's senior director of marketing Beth

Harris says the developer's president "thought it was the best opening

in the history of the company."


BNC is far from done with H&H. The grand opening was only phase one of a

three-part plan that runs through the summer of 2002. Upcoming campaigns

will focus on holiday shopping, special events, and, of course, rolling

out the red carpet for the Oscars.

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