Client: Nuveen Investments (Chicago)
Client: Nuveen Investments (Chicago)
PR Team: Martin Public Relations (Richmond and New York City); Cobeycom
Campaign: Promotion of Nuveen’s Super Bowl commercial
Time Frame: December 1999 to February 2000
Budget: About dollars 100,000 (PR only)
When people talk about the recent Super Bowl, two things prove
memorable: the game’s dramatic conclusion and the equally dramatic
commercial in which paralyzed actor Christopher Reeve appears to walk
The commercial by Nuveen Investments sought to drive home the idea that
advances are possible with proper planning for the future. And while
Nuveen’s Super Bowl commercial may have been seen by an estimated 130
million viewers, the surrounding publicity campaign generated an
estimated 275 million impressions.
Since his injury, there’s been a tremendous amount of interest in
Christopher Reeve. His participation in the Super Bowl commercial had
the potential to generate significant attention for Nuveen Investments.
However, part of the challenge for Martin PR was to keep the focus on
the investment firm’s business objectives rather than on Reeve
’walking.’ PR also was considered essential for television viewers to
understand that the commercial was a dramatic representation and that
Reeve wasn’t actually walking.
Chris Allen, VP for PR at Nuveen, says pitching the idea to Reeve was
not difficult, because the actor agreed with Nuveen’s message. ’Our
message is about thinking in a new way about wealth ... and how you can
use wealth to improve life,’ Allen says. ’(Reeve) is an activist in his
own area to raise money for research, and our message gave him an
opportunity to get his message out.’
In advance of the Super Bowl, considerable effort by Martin PR went into
targeting coverage on business - rather than advertising and media -
To generate targeted coverage, the initial PR effort focused on offering
the story as an exclusive to a major newspaper. Much of the early
publicity success can be traced to the story in the Money section of USA
Today, which appeared on the Wednesday before the Super Bowl. That story
triggered the initial wave of media interest and resulted in a CBS
interview two days later with Nuveen’s CEO, Tim Schwertfeger.
Additionally, a video news release distributed on the Friday before the
game contained not only the commercial and behind-the-scenes footage,
but also an interview with Schwertfeger. The VNR increased viewership of
the spot during the game and also helped minimize any debate on the
commercial in advance of the Super Bowl.
For follow-up media inquiries, Reeve was provided with briefing points
on Nuveen’s philosophy and ad campaign for background use in interviews
generated by the commercial.
The VNR aired on about 230 stations, with additional broadcast exposure
on network entertainment and news programs - including NBC’s Today show
and syndicated program Entertainment Tonight. In total, the VNR
generated about dollars 2 million of free airtime. The story appeared in
publications with a combined circulation of 62 million.’We knew from the
get-go that this was going to be a very dramatic ad and create a lot of
conversation,’ says Nuveen’s Allen.
The campaign wasn’t completely successful, though. In a spat played out
in the media, the National Spinal Cord Injury Association reported
getting calls from some disabled people who wanted to find out how Reeve
And the actor was taken to task by some for instilling false hope. But
Nuveen itself appeared to escape most of the criticism.
Despite all the attention to Reeve ’walking,’ Allen says that many more
people know of Nuveen now than before the commercial and its surrounding
Nuveen is considering one-on-one meetings with business media and the
brokerage community to explain the rationale behind the commercial and
to introduce/reintroduce the investment community to Nuveen Investments.