PHILADELPHIA: The city of Philadelphia is banking on the appeal of Ben Franklin to drive tourism in 2006.
Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC), in conjunction with Ben Franklin Tercentennial, a civic group, is throwing a year-long party for Franklin's 300th birthday, using the slogan "Benergy."
The effort launched with an exhibition, "Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World," which opened on December 15 in Philadelphia, and visits St. Louis, Houston, Denver, Atlanta, and Paris through April 30, 2006.
The campaign includes a $1.6 million ad spend and plenty of both long and short lead-time media relations, according to Cara Schneider, national media relations spokesperson for the GPTMC.
The exhibition, and GPTMC's media outreach efforts garnered what Schneider called "the Sunday paper trifecta," lengthy Philadelphia/Franklin write-ups revolving in the December 18 editions of the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune.
Since 2001 the city has had a tourism campaign, including promotions and packages, with the tag "Philly's More Fun When You Sleep Over."
Schneider said that campaign will be a baseline for determining anecdotal ROI on the Benergy campaign.
"The key indicators we have are our hotel packages and our benefits package," Schneider said, adding that the GPTMC is pleased with the initial results; she said hotels are reporting sell outs for New Year's Eve.
Schneider said area restaurants and bars have embraced the campaign, offering Franklin-themed offerings, such as 300 dimes prix fixe meals, Ben-tinis, and "Early to Rise" flapjacks.
Schneider said the GPTMC has been in planning stages for a long time.
"Next to the  Republican National Convention, this has involved the longest lead plans we've ever done," Schneider said, adding that the first press luncheons in other cities began in November 2004. She said media outreach started with a press conference last March, garnering an AP write-up, among other articles. The group also held a short-lead press conference in September, where it announced the campaign slogan. Concurrently, the Ben Franklin Tercentennial, working with Philadelphia PR firm Alta Communications, was doing trade and niche media outreach to archeological and antique journals.
"This is such a natural story for Philadelphia; the city is so peppered with Ben that we don't have to make it up," Schneider said. "Ben is everywhere, and we are a different city because of what Franklin did."