Client: Rosewood Hotels and Resorts (Dallas)
PR Team: Nike Communications (New York)
Campaign: The Texas-style barbecue backrub
Time Frame: November 2000 - May 2001
With so many vacation destinations around the globe competing for the
consumer's travel dollar, US resorts have found it increasingly
difficult to distinguish themselves - especially given that most of them
offer a similar mix of sun, dining, and golf. Hoping to one-up the
competition, Rosewood Hotels and Resorts tapped its corporate PR agency
of record, New York-based luxury brand specialists Nike Communications,
to promote the $4 million renovation of its Spa at Crescent
Court, a 30,000-square-foot facility located in Dallas.
The particular challenge was not merely to stir up excitement around
Dallas and in the travel media, but to generate publicity in places
where people wouldn't ordinarily expect to hear about a spa. "I worried
that we didn't have anything that would garner the kind of coverage we
were looking for," admits Rosewood director of corporate communications
Julie Zirbel. Her concerns were shared by Nike president Nina Kaminer:
"To be honest, this wasn't stop-the-presses news."
Nike aimed to crystallize exactly what the Spa at Crescent Court offered
that no other spa could match. However, the agency also wanted to
reinforce Rosewood's "sense of place" marketing theme; everything about
the company's resorts - from food to architecture to service - is
designed to complement and celebrate the local culture.
Playing on Texas' reputation as the barbecue mecca of the free world,
Nike generated the idea for the Texas-style BBQ backrub. One small
problem: no such treatment existed at the spa. The backrub eventually
developed by the spa staff employs everything from cayenne pepper to a
lime margarita moisturizer. "I'm not a native Texan, so I didn't know
how the idea would be perceived locally," Zirbel explains. "But with
President Bush in office, it seemed that the media was looking for
stories with Texas connections."
Nike shot b-roll footage of the treatment, arranged for still
photography, and set about pitching. The story was sent to traditional
(USA Today's Life section) and non-traditional (CNN's Business Unusual)
outlets for travel stories. "Other than the actual creation of the
backrub, the execution was fairly simple," Kaminer admits.
Nike delivered on Rosewood's mandate, as the BBQ backrub found its way
into Newsweek, USA Today, and Family Circle. The greatest coup, however,
was securing a story that ran on the front page of The Wall Street
Journal on January 18. "A total slam dunk," says Zirbel. "Everyone from
the marketing department to the people who work at the spa was really
proud of all the attention."
Additionally, the Spa at Crescent Court has been running at full
capacity for the last few months. "I don't know that they've sold
thousands of these packages as a result of all the media, but it
certainly has brought interest to the spa and its treatments," Kaminer
Nike will continue to manage Rosewood's corporate PR.