Campaigns: When you wish upon the Web

Client: (Norwalk, CT)

Client: (Norwalk, CT)

Client: (Norwalk, CT)

PR Team: Gregory Communications (Ardmore, PA)

Campaign: World’s Greatest Birthday Gift Contest

Time Frame: April 13 to May 6, 2000

Budget: About dollars 50,000

Web Site Promotion.

Brian Jersey, CEO of, says that every week five million

Americans celebrate a birthday. To an entrepreneur like Jersey, that

could mean five million gifts that don’t get purchased because of mass


To prevent such mishaps, sends birthday reminders and gift

suggestions to over 100,000 members in its database.

Jersey wanted to raise awareness of his site as a service that ensures

that birthdays get celebrated rather than forgotten. He also wanted to

attract more members to the site’s database in hopes of building a

larger customer base.

To achieve those goals, the company teamed up with Gregory

Communications, which has a special division that exclusively concocts

online contests.


Amy McDonnell, Gregory Communications’ lead AE on the account, summed up

the simple strategy: ’Brian Jersey really wanted a way for people across

the country to give a good birthday gift to someone they love. That’s

how we came up with the World’s Greatest Birthday Gift Contest.’

Entrants submitted a 250-word essay stating whom they’d give a gift to

and why. The contest encouraged entrants to think ’big’ and

’outrageous.’ To gain exposure for, McDonnell and her team

decided that the winner, the gift recipient and the gift itself, would

be unveiled on national TV.


The contest kicked off on April 13. To lure entrants and thus drive

traffic to the site, Jersey posted a banner ad on DoubleClick and

Limited by the short time period of the contest, McDonnell then

contacted national dailies, metro parenting newspapers, marketing

publications and other outlets with short lead times.

McDonnell and her team then shopped the contest to national TV


Fortunately, The Donny & Marie Show was devoting its May 22 broadcast to

making its viewers’ dreams come true. The show immediately expressed


’We’ve done these things before but this was the first time a show

expressed interest up front,’ says McDonnell. ’The Donny and Marie Show

was like our partner.’

Donny and Marie mentioned the contest in weekly on-air teasers and on

the show’s Web site. McDonnell says that the association with Donny &

Marie immediately increased the number of entries, which were both

mailed and submitted through the site. About 4,000 essays

were received and narrowed down to eight based on their theme,

sincerity, originality and persuasiveness.

The winning letter was written by Justin Mintz, who said that he wanted

to give his stepfather a Harley Davidson motorcycle. They appeared on

the May 22 show.


Perhaps because of the short lead time, media coverage was limited to,, and The Stamford

Advocate in Connecticut. However, the goal of the contest was achieved.

According to Jersey,’s sales and traffic increased, though

he declined to give figures.


McDonnell says that the contest will likely become an annual one.

Jessica Sung.

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