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:
"When people would say that, we would say, 'Absolutely not,'" explains
BNC's Doug Piwinski, who led the account. "What shopping mall has the
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
Piwinski then began inviting media for tours of the facility, and
providing special "sneak previews" for high-profile outlets like
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,"
"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,
"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.