MIAMI: It's not every day that a PR campaign leads to a visit by the Secret Service. But that's what happened because of a 10th anniversary promotion for the Florida Marlins.
To celebrate the baseball team's first decade, the Marlins' PR firm RBB Public Relations branded 75,000 dimes with the team's "F" logo. The coins were distributed throughout South Florida. Fans who find the anniversary dimes can redeem them at the Pro Player Stadium box office for a seat at any Marlins home game through the end of the regular season.
"We wanted to use something that would be an attention grabber for even the most casual fan, so we thought currency might do the trick," said Christine Barney, CEO of RBB PR.
It was an attention grabber indeed, as defacing US tender is federal offense. When the Secret Service heard of the promotion, it went so far as to send an agent to the Marlins' offices to take a gander at the coins.
Although the defacement is a federal violation, the authorities saw fit to let the Marlins go through with the promotion.
The Secret Service appeared to back off for two reasons. First, it felt that the campaign had obvious benign intent, and second, the paint used on the dimes will eventually wear off.
Because of the Secret Service's visit, the campaign received much more significant coverage, as some lighthearted stories about the incident appeared in the local media, including The Miami Herald.
"It was publicity we didn't expect, but it worked out well for us in the end," said Barney.