How LA Tourism celebrated the Hollywood sign’s 100th anniversary

The tourism group dedicated a year-long campaign to the event.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Campaign: Hollywood Sign Centennial
Companies: Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board
Agency Partners: The Point and BerlinRosen (earned media, promotion)
Duration: January 1 - December 31, 2023

There aren’t many, if any, signs that are more famous than the white Hollywood sign in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking Los Angeles. 

As such, the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board creatives saw an opportunity to use the sign’s 100th anniversary to draw attention to the City of Angels. 

Strategy

In 1923, Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler paid to erect a Hollywoodland sign to promote a real estate development, according to Hollywoodsign.org. In the late 1940s, the sign had fallen into disrepair and some locals wanted it torn down; instead the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce agreed to restore it and removed the “land” suffix.

The sign has, of course, since become iconic.

“As we were looking at all the new products that our city has to offer [the sign’s centennial] was one of the storylines that was surfacing to the top and we knew we wanted to do something big with it,” said Chris Heywood, SVP of global communications for the board.

The tourism group thought that the anniversary was compelling enough that they could dedicate a year-long campaign to the event, Heywood said.

Tactics

To promote the sign, the marketers focused on generating earned media, Heywood said, and issued three press releases. At the start of the year, they arranged for press to get close to the Hollywood sign, which is not normally allowed.

Once there, the organizers arranged for Hollywood Sign Trust chairman Jeff Zarrinnam  and Heywood to discuss the sign’s history with the press.

“I think that was sort of a secret sauce that helped reinvigorate our storytelling,” Heywood said.

A couple months later, the marketers promoted the ways in which the public can visit the sign — despite not being able to touch it — which include hiking, cycling or horseback riding.

The team also promoted Hollywood’s culinary scene.

“Over the last century, the Hollywood sign has borne witness to the evolution of Hollywood, from the glamor of its golden age to its current standing as a world-renowned dining and drinking destination,” according to a statement from the board. “As a global culinary capital, Los Angeles is known for a wide range of epicurean delights—from street food and budget-friendly eats to fine dining and Michelin-starred cuisine. Hollywood is a microcosm of what makes LA’s food scene exceptional.”

On December 8, the anniversary of when the sign was first lit, the marketers partially again illuminated the site. They also brought replicas of the sign’s letters to events such as IPW, an annual travel and trade show from the U.S. Travel Association.

Results

The centennial received coverage from media such as The New York TimesGood Morning AmericaCBS Sunday MorningThe Wall Street JournalTown and Country; and Reuters

The campaign’s advertising value equivalency was $3.6 million, according to the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board.


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