Former Reebok CEO Paul Fireman had an ambitious bonding project with his son, Dan: to open an exclusive golf club in Jersey City, NJ, overlooking the Statue of Liberty and the urban skyline of New York City.
The course's membership rolls would target the NYC golfing A-list, including politicians, celebrities, and business titans. But to build a buzz amongst stiff competition, the club needed a long-lead campaign of serious, upscale media coverage.
Liberty National Golf Club approached Dan Klores Communications two full years before its July 2006 opening. "Our first step was to execute a whisper campaign... to place items about the project in strategic publications," says Scott Miranda, an MD who headed DKC's work on the account. The agency began by targeting high-end respected outlets. "We felt establishing the lifestyle before speaking to the [golf] trade was important," says Miranda. The ultimate goal was for the buzz to drive membership sales.
The opening splash came in September 2004 with a front-page WSJ article. Using that as a launch point, DKC continued its media campaign. "They placed major lifestyle stories in every key media outlet to keep the momentum going," says Dan Fireman, president and CEO of Willowbend Development, via e-mail. DKC built media coverage across business outlets, international press, upscale publications, golf magazines, and metro papers.
Liberty opened last summer, after the two-year media campaign established it as a highly anticipated destination for NYC's golfing elite, with coverage in major papers and high net-worth publications like Robb Report and Cigar Aficionado. Memberships sold out, and there currently is a two-year waiting list.
Liberty's clubhouse is set to open in 2008. DKC continues to promote its second phase of development.
PR team: Liberty National Golf Club (Jersey City, NJ) and Dan Klores Communications (New York)
Campaign: The launch of Liberty National Golf Club
Duration: Summer 2004-ongoing
Budget: $250,000 to 300,000