CAMPAIGNS: Fund-raising - L&B contain press at Fight Night gala

Client: Fight Night Foundation (Phoenix)

PR Team: Lavidge & Baumayr (Scottsdale, AZ)

Campaign: Celebrity Fight Night

Time Frame: February 5 - March 17, 2001

Budget: dollars 15,000

For the Fight Night Foundation, the problem isn't raising money or

attracting the media to their annual Celebrity Fight Night charity gala.

It's keeping the journalists in line.

After weathering backlash from celebrities angered by pushy paparazzi at

last year's event, organizers enlisted Lavidge & Baumayr to get a handle

on the press this year.

The 7th annual Celebrity Fight Night, held March 17, 2001, benefited The

Muhammad Ali Parkinson Research Center at Barrow Neurological Institute

in Phoenix.


The guest list included high-profile entertainers and athletes, but the

foundation was reluctant to announce their names in case they were

unable to attend at the last minute. Therefore, celebrity names were not

used in any promotional material.

The caliber of star power at past events virtually ensured major


So the focus was to generate local excitement and national awareness of

the event and its mission, while managing the media frenzy and

preserving guests' privacy.


A formal credentials system was established for the first time this year

to ensure all media representatives at the event were working, and not

simply attending for their own enjoyment. L&B required journalists to

submit their credentials two weeks prior to the event and asked them to

identify potential story angles in advance.

"Not only did we require the media to complete the credentials materials

prior to the event, but we asked that they wear their credentials on

site and be escorted by a member of our team throughout the evening's

event," says Michelle Olson, director of PR for Lavidge & Baumayr.

Hollywood publicist Joan Swift was recruited to help coordinate national


To head off tension with the media, L&B also presented alternative story

ideas to broadcast journalists, as opposed to standard one-on-ones with

celebrities. For example, Muhammad Ali's doctor agreed to be interviewed

about Barrow's Parkinson's Disease program.

A red carpet entry area was staged and camera crews were corralled there

to videotape the arrival of the more than 40 celebrities and their


Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox, guests of honor, arrived together and

were cheered by more than 100 onlookers as they were interviewed by

national and local news media.

The event also included a celebrity bout between Evander Holyfield and

Steven Seagal, and a live auction for exotic travel and entertainment

packages, and valuable sports memorabilia.


Celebrity Fight Night drew 995 guests at dollars 1,000 a seat. Through

ticket sales, the live auction, a silent auction and impulsive gifts

from attendees, the event raised dollars 2.5 million plus after


More than 60 print and broadcast journalists requested credentials for

the event. Media coverage included headliner segments on Access

Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, Extra, HBO Sports, FOX Sports, as well

as live and taped coverage on all local television networks.

Print coverage included feature stories in Us Weekly, People, USA Today,

The Arizona Republic, Scottsdale Life magazine, Scottsdale Magazine,

Phoenix magazine, and various other weekly and daily publications in



Pleased with the outcome, the Fight Night Foundation plans to use a

similar scheme to promote and manage media at next year's event.

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