CAMPAIGNS: Sports PR - Ice queens' story makes press melt

Client: yourexpedition (Minneapolis)

PR Team: Haberman & Associates (Minneapolis)

Campaign: Bancroft-Arnesen Expedition

Time Frame: September 1998 - March 2001

Budget: dollars 450,000

Once there was a little girl from Minnesota who dreamed of skiing from

one end of Antarctica to the other after reading the book Endurance:

Shackleton's Incredible Voyage about one man's 1914 attempt to cross the

continent. Around the world in Norway, another little girl read the same

book and was likewise smitten.

When they grew up, both Ann Bancroft, the American, and Liv Arnesen, the

Norwegian, became school teachers and led expeditions to the South Pole.

The two eventually met and set out become the first women to complete

the 94-day trek across 1,717 miles of Antarctic snow and ice.

But first they needed a PR firm. They chose Haberman & Associates, led

by Fred Haberman and his wife.

As it turned out, the firm made international sensations out of the

explorers. Controlling the subsequent media avalanche was the campaign's

biggest challenge.


Two years before the event, Haberman attracted Volvo, Motorola and

Pfizer as sponsors. Their brands would be spotlighted in every stage of

the campaign.

The agency also helped open yourexpedition, a for-profit business, to

raise funds.

"The overriding media-management strategy was always to go with the

largest outlet in each country or the wire services - they would drive

the story. Otherwise we would be inundated with the dozens of local news

programs," says Haberman.


Once the expedition began, the media were relentless. "It was nonstop,

stallion-out-of-the-gate calls," says Haberman. "The TV producers became

the PR people and we became the news people, dealing with their pitches

that they were the best ones to cover this."

No outlet got exclusives, but CNN was granted a number of "firsts,"

including the initial interview before the explorers departed, an

interview after the journey and two calls a week from the ice. "CNN gave

us international reach," Haberman explains. "Also, they provided us with

that breaking-news credibility."

NBC's Today show won three interviews because of its high ratings. "They

all wanted the world - the best footage, exclusives," says Haberman.

"You're talking to a major morning show, and you have to tell them, 'No,

we gave it to someone else.'"

The agency insisted on having a high-level contact who could make

decisions at various media outlets. "As the story unfolded, that person

understood it and championed it," says Suzanne Fedoruk of Haberman.

Bancroft and Arnesen felt strongly that the trek should send kids the

message that they can achieve their dreams, so the women e-mailed and

talked by phone with children worldwide throughout their journey, which

was often mentioned in the coverage.


Bancroft and Arnesen ended their journey in the middle of the night on

February 18 and were airlifted to a waiting ship. Three reporters

handpicked by Haberman were on-board: one from the BBC, one from the

international AP and one from Minneapolis' Star Tribune.

The Tribune broke the story, and the AP had picked it up and sent it

around the world by the time the PR team woke up the next day. According

to Haberman, the campaign garnered two billion Web, broadcast and print


These included all the network morning shows and evening news programs,

the Late Show with David Letterman, CNN, international AP, BBC, Reuters,

NPR, Bloomberg Radio and Euro News. Remarkably, pieces about the women

sometimes interrupted coverage of the presidential election.


Coverage is ongoing. After the trek, Volvo also asked the firm to handle

PR for the introduction of it animated crash dummies Clive and Mary


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