CAMPAIGNS: Public Affairs - F-H shows US the value of a dollar

Client: United States Mint (Washington, DC)

Client: United States Mint (Washington, DC)

Client: United States Mint (Washington, DC)

PR Team: Fleishman-Hillard (Washington, DC)

Campaign: ’Golden Dollar Public Education and Awareness’

Time Frame: May 1999 to March 2000 (first phase)

Budget: About dollars 2 million for PR in year one

When the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin was unveiled in 1979, the US Mint

expected it to become the sensible alternative to the dollar bill.

Soon, however, millions of the dollars were gathering dust in bank


Simply put, Americans hated the coin, in part because it looked too much

like a quarter.

But the need for a dollar coin remained - what cost a quarter in the

1960s costs a dollar today, and vending machines don’t handle bills very

well. After Congress mandated the introduction of a new dollar coin and

its proper marketing in 1997, the US Mint retained Fleishman-Hillard’s

Washington, DC office to plan the PR campaign on behalf of the ’Golden


The new coin honors Sacagawea, a member of the Shoshone tribe who helped

guide Lewis and Clark’s expedition. Avoiding one of the pitfalls of the

Susan B. Anthony coin, its design is distinctive - in addition to the

gold color, Sacagawea boldly stares straight at the holder.


This time, the mint aimed to launch the dollar coin just like a company

launches a new product. Fleishman’s plan called for early PR to build

awareness that the coin was coming and to explain its practicality. The

difficulty would be that banks and retailers still harbored bad memories

of the insufficiently marketed Susan B. Anthony coin. ’It would be like

Ford reissuing the Edsel,’ Fleishman SVP Stanley Collender quotes US

Mint director Philip Diehl as saying.

Banks and retailers needed to be convinced that people would want the

coin, while consumers needed to be convinced that the Golden Dollar

would be useful.

Basic PR events would promote the coin, and the mint would make direct

appeals to banks, retailers and the vending machine industry (which had

pushed for a new dollar coin).


The mint retained Double Eagle, a market development firm in Seal Beach,

CA, to advise businesses about how to best have their equipment

accommodate the dollar coin. Mint officials, and sometimes Fleishman

representatives, went to numerous meetings and conventions of businesses

and trade associations, including those representing bankers. A press

conference in New York on October 5 announced that the new coin would be

user-friendly and not require expensive overhauls of vending


Later, a Golden Dollar float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

received national media exposure. The Golden Dollar’s ceremonial strikes

at the Philadelphia and Denver mints were also widely covered.

As for partnerships, Fleishman negotiated a deal with General Mills to

place a dollar coin in every 2,000th Cheerios box. Even more

importantly, it got Wal-Mart to not only accept the Golden Dollar, but

to help promote it via its 90 million circulars,in-store radio network

and signs placed by its cash registers.


Fleishman media analysis since the summer demonstrates not only more

stories about the coin but an increasingly favorable tone. Public

support was at 53% last summer; the agency’s February tracking survey

showed support at 63%, while opposition has fallen from 27% to 20%.

The coin was released in late January. Mint spokesperson Mike White

contends the coin’s circulation in its first 14 weeks will equal the

total demand for the Susan B. Anthony dollar in its first 14 years. A

half-billion Golden Dollars will be in circulation by early May.


The mint has launched an ad campaign. PR activities promoting the coin’s

use in transit systems are planned for April and May.

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