CAMPAIGNS: Opening - Sears raises the roof’s profile

Client: Kent Cole Smith & World (Chicago)

Client: Kent Cole Smith & World (Chicago)

Client: Kent Cole Smith & World (Chicago)

PR Team: Creative Consortium (Chicago)

Campaign: Sears Tower Skydeck reopening

Time Frame: From Jan. 2000 and ongoing

Budget: dollars 30,000 (for PR only)

The Sears Tower Skydeck, the 103rd-floor observatory in Chicago’s

tallest building, has been a fixture in the city for roughly 25


But the attraction finds itself today in an increasingly competitive

market for consumer entertainment dollars. Building management company

TrizecHahn Office Properties decided to renovate the skydeck to provide

more attractions for visitors.

After a four-month renovation, TrizecHahn wanted to get as much media

attention for the reopening as possible. It turned to an integrated

marketing team led by Kent Cole Smith & World, a virtual agency. The

firm uses more than 100 independent advertising, PR and marketing

experts and firms to handle integrated marketing for clients. KCS asked

Creative Consortium to handle PR.


Creative Consortium decided to target the media, travel professionals,

building employees and hotel concierges, who can be key in recommending

sights for tourists. Rather than dribbling out updates on the

renovation, it opted for creating major media impact with a series of

four parties for key audiences the week of the reopening.

All PR was to be closely integrated with advertising in major local


’It was clear to us that PR was going to be a major component of this

launch,’ says Steve Smith, a principal with KCS. In addition to PR, the

campaign included newspaper, TV and radio advertising, as well as

airplane banners and development of a new logo for the skydeck.


The major event was a VIP/media party on the opening day for the

renovated facility, April 12.

Creative decided to bring in celebrities, such as former Chicago Cub

Ernie Banks, who acted as emcee. The choice of celebrities was dictated

by the new skydeck’s wall of fame, which features key people in Chicago


All the still-living figures on the wall, such as musician Buddy Guy,

were invited to the party. Actors were hired to portray historic figures

such as Frank Lloyd Wright. ’The idea that there would be characters

from the wall was a big draw,’ says Mary Beth Berkoff, president of


Local station WGN (also distributed on cable-TV) was given an exclusive

on the skydeck the morning of the opening, generating coverage across

the country. Roughly 300 guests and media pros attended the VIP



The reopening received 30 television hits and 51 print clips, including

extensive coverage on WGN-TV and an opening page column in the Chicago

Tribune weekend section. Traffic on clear weather days is up 11%

compared to clear days last year, says Mike Poss, the attraction’s

general manager.


PR is continuing for the skydeck and for a planned renovation of the

lower level of the Sears Tower, where visitors enter to go up to the

103rd floor. The Chicago ABC television outlet has discussed doing one

of its shows, on sights to see in Chicago, from the skydeck.

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