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
"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 (www.inventpa.com). The
event's site (www.pagroundhog.com), which featured a live Webcast of
Phil's prediction, received nearly 6 million hits during the week of
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