Client: Top of the World Trade Center Observatories (New York)
PR Team: Canaan Public Relations (New York)
Campaign: Valentine's Day Wedding Marathon
Time Frame: December 2000 - February 2001
Budget: Less than dollars 25,000
New Yorkers don't usually visit the World Trade Center towers, unless
they're accompanying a tourist, and even then it borders on uncool for
the average local.
But Jed Canaan of New York-based Canaan Public Relations was hired to
change all that.
Jurriaan Veth, director of marketing and sales for the Top of the World
Trade Center Observatories, was not pleased with the work of a publicist
who had organized previous events at the towers. "Most locals only come
here when they have someone visiting," he says. "We want to give them a
reason to come back again and again."
Veth turned to Canaan to conduct five PR events in 2001 that would
highlight the towers as something more than a tourist attraction. The
first was the fourth annual Valentine's Day Wedding Marathon.
Rather than remake the event, Canaan decided to "fine tune it." Previous
marathons weren't "as high profile as they could have been," says
Canaan. "The goal was to increase visitors, but there was a
philanthropic angle as well because a complimentary wedding was donated
to 55 couples who didn't have the money to get married," he
The first press release announced the search for couples and instructed
applicants to mail a letter explaining "why they were in love and why
they should get married on top of the world trade center," says
While the client selected winners, Canaan's staff assembled gift bags
for participants, which included compact discs from J&R Music World,
dinners from The Supper Club and spa treatments from Crunch Fitness.
Names of participating retailers were included in subsequent PR
materials promoting the marathon.
Canaan made a media event out of the construction of the chapel. "We
spruced it up with flowers and did some pre-event publicity," he says,
adding that he was surprised by the significant amount of local coverage
the stunt received.
A media advisory was mailed and faxed to 400 tri-state and national
television and radio assignment desks, as well as to newspaper photo
desks, one week before the event. Another was faxed and e-mailed the day
before the event.
The 55 weddings were conducted every 20 minutes around the clock. Two
New York state judges were hired to conduct the non-denominational
ceremonies (an attempt at getting "celebrity judges" failed).
The New York Daily News, CBS radio and local New York TV channels 2, 5,
9 and 11, New York 1 Cable News and Bloomberg radio all covered the
chapel construction, says Canaan.
Additional pre-event coverage ran in Time Out New York, and on 1010 Wins
and various other local radio stations. The event resulted in 55 local
and national television hits, and international coverage in 10
countries, with hits on CNN, the BBC and a mention on ABC's Politically
The next of the observatories' five planned events - a talent show
involving twins - will take place on June 6.