CAMPAIGNS: Event PR - Star groundhog weathers big city

Client: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg)

PR Team: Bozell Kamstra (Pittsburgh)

Campaign: "Punxsutawney Phil takes Manhattan"

Time Frame: January 26 - February 2, 2001

Budget: dollars 100,000

First take a skittish creature notoriously afraid of its own shadow and

expose him to the bright lights and towering skyline of New York City.

Then make him the star of a six-figure PR campaign.

That's what Bozell Kamstra did when it brought Punxsutawney Phil - the

world's furriest weather forecaster - to Manhattan for a three-day tour

leading up to Groundhog Day. The event was part of a week-long campaign

to promote Pennsylvania as a tourist destination, as well as a viable

location for new and expanding businesses.

"It was a unique way to take the tale of Punxsutawney Phil into the new

economy and break through the clutter of other states' messages," says

Barbara Chaffee, Pennsylvania's deputy secretary for tourism and

economic development marketing.


"We wanted to set Pennsylvania apart and make people smile," says Marlin

Collingwood, partner and director of PR at Bozell, which has worked for

the commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the past five years.


To get the word out, Bozell created an integrated campaign that included

traditional PR, print and TV advertising, interactive marketing and

on-the-street promotions.

"We wanted to saturate the New York market," says Collingwood. "If you

can get New Yorkers to pay attention, you can get the rest of the

country as well."

The campaign included appearances at popular Manhattan locales by a

dozen Pennsylvania-related mascots. Among the costumed characters was a

life-size version of Punxsutawney Phil, a giant Hershey's Kiss and

forefather Ben Franklin.

Kicking off the campaign on January 26, the mascots traveled from

Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, stopping at several attractions along the

way before boarding a train for New York City on January 30. (The "real"

Phil was flown in that day on a private plane and escorted to a midtown

hotel by limousine.)

A 30-person team hit the streets of Manhattan to hand out sweatshirts,

air fresheners shaped like ground-hogs and fortune cookies with

pro-Pennsylvania messages. The campaign also featured three mobile

billboards promoting Phil's February 2 forecast.

In addition, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge hosted a reception for New

York-area travel agents, as well as a breakfast in Times Square for

business leaders and the media the morning of Groundhog Day. But the

most important aspect of the campaign was making sure Phil was back in

Punxsutawney in time for the big event.

The campaign culminated in the first live broadcast of Phil's prediction

on the Astro-Vision screen in Times Square.


The groundhog saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter. For

those of you keeping score, Phil has seen his shadow 91 times since


The promotion was highlighted by guest appearances on CBS' Early Show

and Live with Regis, and was featured on the WB morning news and CNN

Headline News with Jeannie Moos. It also received front-page coverage in

The New York Times' Metro Section, as well as local papers across the


During the week of the promotion, the state saw a 31% increase in the

number of calls to its toll-free tourism line, as well as a 33% jump in

visitors to its economic development site ( The

event's site (, which featured a live Webcast of

Phil's prediction, received nearly 6 million hits during the week of

February 2.


Due to the success of the New York City tour, Chaffee is looking to

bring Phil to another major metropolis next year, although she would not

reveal specifics.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in