CAMPAIGNS: Financial PR - Big sales, close shave for firm

Client: Louisiana-Pacific (Portland, OR)

Client: Louisiana-Pacific (Portland, OR)

Client: Louisiana-Pacific (Portland, OR)

PR Team: Sloane & Co. (New York)

Campaign: ’Public Shearing’

Time Frame: January 2000

Budget: N/A

After some rough years in the mid-1990s - including a series of product

liability suits settled for almost half-a-billion dollars -

Louisiana-Pacific brought in a new management team that included

chairman and CEO Mark Suwyn.

The company invested millions in revamping its corporate culture and

finally found itself back in the black. But when Suwyn promised

employees he’d shave his head if fourth-quarter earnings doubled, he was

certain his sandy-brown locks were safe. Sure, with housing starts up

and interest rates down, just about every company in building and lumber

products like Louisiana-Pacific was expected to turn a profit.

But double fourth-quarter earnings?

Yet, when the number crunchers were done, the company had delivered net

earnings of dollars 35 million - better than double the dollars 16

million earned in last year’s fourth quarter.


After mulling it over for some time, Louisiana-Pacific decided that

publicizing the hair-shave event was an ideal way to draw attention to a

very positive earnings story, according to Ward Hubbell, director of

corporate affairs.

’It’s not like we told him, ’Hey, shave your head and we’ll get you on

the front page of the Journal,’’ says Darren Brandt, executive vice

president at Sloane, which the company hired last March and which was

enthusiastic about the idea. ’This is a traditional company that thought

long and hard on how this would play.’


Louisiana-Pacific was forced to walk a fine line promoting the ’Public

Shearing,’ as it was dubbed.

As the act itself hinged on unreleased earning results, any specific

announcement would incur the wrath of the SEC. ’So, starting about two

weeks before the earnings were due out, we started sending teasers to

journalists’ saying that if earnings doubled, Suwyn would shave his

head, Hubbell says.

In an act of solidarity, the morning the company released its results,

January 26, its entire 10-member senior management team also went under

the scissors at the press conference - in front of 200 cheering

employees and numerous media reps.


The following morning, the story appeared on all of the major wires and

was picked up by broadcast outlets from New York to Los Angeles. Several

high-profile print publications covered the story, including The

Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal (on the front page of its

Marketplace section). A freshly shaven Suwyn made the rounds that

evening, appearing on several telecasts, including The Cavuto Business

Report on Fox.

There was, however, one unforeseen negative result: when Hubbell’s

four-year-old daughter saw her bald-headed father, she burst into


Nonetheless, CEO Suwyn says, ’This event and the publicity that resulted

from it helped us get more than our fair share of recognition for a very

good year.’


Hubbell says that in addition to its continued financial media relations

efforts, Louisiana-Pacific senior management is currently developing a

corporate re-branding program.

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