CAMPAIGNS: Atlanta shines with Ketchum PR - Public Affairs

Client: Metro Atlanta Super Bowl XXXIV Host Committee

Client: Metro Atlanta Super Bowl XXXIV Host Committee

Client: Metro Atlanta Super Bowl XXXIV Host Committee

PR Team: Ketchum Public Relations (Atlanta)

Campaign: NFL Super Bowl XXXIV

Time Frame: April 1999 to January 31, 2000

Budget: dollars 100,000

Mega-events such as the Super Bowl present challenges for PR pros, since

the traditional role of attracting media coverage is replaced by the

need to take advantage of the media already present to deliver the right


Ketchum’s Atlanta office took on this task when it helped the city

revive its image during the hosting of the recent Super Bowl. The city

had come under harsh criticism from national and international media

during the 1996 Olympics, as complaints about transportation and other

organiza-tional inadequacies received ample coverage.

From the moment it secured the right to host Super Bowl XXXIV, the Metro

Atlanta Host Committee planned to use the event to promote the city as

the ’Sports Capital of the World.’ In early 1999 it chose Ketchum over

20 firms to provide PR expertise before and during Super Bowl week.

’They really wanted to showcase the city as well as position themselves

as a major agency in the Atlanta area,’ says D.J. Mackovets, the Host

Committee’s VP of operations.


Ketchum had recently served as the PR agency for the Nokia Sugar Bowl

college football game in New Orleans, so it was familiar with handling

major sporting events. ’The whole challenge is taking advantage of the

thousands of media that come to the game and keeping them as happy as

you can while sending a positive message about the city and the NFL,’

says senior account executive Adam Leish.

After winning the account, Ketchum took the unusual step of loaning

Leish out to the Host Committee during the summer of 1999. There he

served as the committee’s director of communications and worked directly

with committee members to formulate a multi-tiered campaign.

The goal was not just to reach out to media, but also to Atlanta


The agency recruited local celebrities like Atlanta Braves pitcher Tom

Glavine and comedian Jeff Foxworthy to film a series of PSAs urging

residents to ’Be a Super Host.’ Local schoolchildren created hand-made

greeting cards that were given to each of the 85,000 fans who attended

the game.

Finally, Ketchum enlisted high school cheerleading squads to design

special cheers welcoming visitors to the city. ’We tried to get 3

million people to smile for five days,’ says Mackovets.


Ketchum developed the Host Committee’s press kit and Web site. Both

contained story ideas about the city, highlighting local landmarks such

as the Martin Luther King Museum and the Atlanta Zoo. To position the

city as a site for future sporting events, Ketchum also designed a

full-page Atlanta Super Bowl advertisement for The Sports Business


During Super Bowl week, the agency staffed the Host Committee booth in

the NFL’s Media Center. In addition to providing information about the

city and the game, the booth provided more than 3,000 credentialed media

with restaurant reservations, as well as phone, fax and Internet


In the days prior to the game, the unexpected arrival of cold

temperatures and freezing rain suddenly turned the weather into a major

story. ’Everyone knew the game was going to be played because it was

indoors,’ explains Leish. ’But the game itself had become such a minor

part of the week.

Everyone wanted to know how the weather was going to affect the other

things going on, such as the NFL commissioner’s party, concerts and


Ketchum developed an emergency operations plan and issued a release that

addressed media concerns and assured the public that Atlanta was

prepared for all contingencies.


Ketchum’s efforts helped Atlanta reestablish itself as a world-class

city for sporting events. Jim Steeg, NFL VP of operations, says it was

’the finest Host Committee he has ever worked with’ and indicated the

NFL ’will be utilizing their plan as the model for future games.’


While the Host Committee’s job has ended, Atlanta continues to be a

sought-after location for major sporting events, providing opportunities

for Ketchum and other agencies in the area. Atlanta will host the Major

League Baseball All- Star Game this summer and the NCAA men’s basketball

tournament finals in 2002 and 2007.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in