Immaculate Reception Marketing Memories

Sprint PCS Immaculate Reception Billboard

I’m so looking forward to tomorrow, December 23 because its the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Immaculate Reception. I was 10 years old and was listening to the Steelers Raiders football game on the radio (local broadcast was blacked out) and heard the news LIVE!

What a thrilling end to a game that propelled the Steelers to future greatness. In addition, this single play would change a city and would forever be immortalized as the greatest NFL play in history!

Immaculate Reception Marketing Memories

Ranking just as high on my list of favorite Steelers memories, was back in December 1997 when as the Director of Marketing and Sales Operations for Sprint PCS, I came up with an idea to help us more effectively communicate our digital ‘call clarity’ position.

Sprint’s Immaculate Reception Print Ad

You guessed correctly – it was also around the same time as the 25th Anniversary of the Immaculate Reception.

To clearly position our new wireless phone service in a hyper competitive wireless phone market, I searched and found a high profile customer (football great Franco Harris) whose testimonial and personal brand matched up perfectly with Brand Sprint.

The marriage between Franco’s most famous play in football and Sprint’s unique selling proposition of digital call clarity, helped drive favorable awareness, considerable store traffic and effectively communicated our unique product positioning (the first and only digital phone service in the market). And, the timing was perfect.  The 25th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception coincided perfectly with our new product launch.

Franco Harris and Stephen Wayhart
25th Anniversary of Immaculate Reception
1997 Commercial Photo Shoot

Testimonials are one of the most effective methods of building brands, and Franco’s testimonial helped us to effectively pull together a strong brand building and sales effort.

Our strategy was so on target that Sprint PCS realized record store traffic and sales.

Now 15 years later, I’m proud to say our campaign – like Franco’s famous catch – has been immortalized by the NFL Network in its feature film A Football Life – The Immaculate Reception.

Click here to watch the entire video of the Show and be sure to check out the mark at 31:57 to 32:04 to see one of our ads!

Happy Anniversary Franco and thanks for the memories!

P.S.: See Case Study here. Also, many thanks to my boss Doug Cotton for giving the idea a ‘thumbs up.!’ And to photographer Harry Giglio, designers Kathy Kendra, Mark Power; Mike Cusick Sprint Director of Sales; and Sprint marketing partner Maria D’Abruzzo.

Click here to see a super video treatment of the 40th Anniversary Celebration and marker unveiling of the Immaculate Reception from Steelers.Com

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A Great Demo of How to Wow

In our client strategy sessions, we always discuss “How to deliver a ‘WOW'” because most brands don’t take the time to think how they can create brand buzz – or, believe they can!

Every brand has a ‘WOW” within them – cost effective ones to be nurtured with thought and care – that will effectively separate themselves from their competitors and carve out a unique branded value proposition, awareness etc.

For example, here’s a ‘WOW’ case study right in our own backyard by a small family owned window cleaning company based in Pittsburgh.

Their idea is a cool and commendable story. The idea was a simple lift of one that a firm executed  in another country.

This simple ‘WOW’ paid off big time too. The brand made a more favorable impression with clients, prospects, employees and for its potential little customers that will last a lifetime. In addition, this ‘WOW’ landed the company and its owners on the front page of Pittsburgh’s major daily papers, 6PM and 11PM TV news and more. Do you have a ‘WOW’ cooking NOW?  If not, why not? You can do it and get people buzzing about your brand!
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How to Build an Award Winning Press Kit

Many brands fail to take advantage building effective public relations into their marketing plans.  If they do, a majority fail to execute.

Take for example press kits to tell your unique story to the media. For as many years as I’ve been in the marketing profession, I’m still amazed at how many brands don’t take the time to tell a good story and package it in a way that excites the media who can then effectively excite the brand’s customers.

Here’s a great example of how to use an ‘old school’ press kit to gain media attention and coverage and win an award along the way.

For several years, we’ve been working with a super brand – Idlewild & SoakZone – the oldest amusement park in Pennsylvania and the third oldest in America.

In our certainly biased opinion, it’s one of the best park’s in the world for kids and families and it’s a grand testament to their hard work that now others feel the same way.

After a few years of being ranked ‘Second Best Kid’s Park in the World’ by the readers of Amusement Today Magazine – second to LEGOLAND – the Park finally burst to the top of the rankings and we wanted to shout from the rooftops its accomplishment in a unique way.

NOTE: In Public Relations and marketing in general, if you don’t make a big ‘to do’ about your brand’s news, how do you expect the media or your customers and staff to get excited and amplify your message?

So, recognizing that most media communiques are sent electronically these days, we decided to send an ‘old school’ press kit by mail. And, we packaged the press kit in a way that guarantees it will get opened and demands immediate interest and attention. In addition, because we needed to send the press kit to quite a few media contacts, cost effectiveness was key for our limited budget.

Take a look at the center of the picture above and see the colorful box with balloons on it? Well, we got that box from the good old U.S. Post Office for about $5.00 and it was big enough to carry a typical folder/press kit, an opening day ticket for our media day invitation, several cool items from the seven themed areas of the Park, our #1 foam finger/hand that was used in broadcast media and a FIJI water bottle that we used to promote the Park’s new Wowabunga Family Wave Pool (we stripped off FIJI’s advertising and relabled the bottle with the Wave Pool’s news).

The total cost for the box, chotchkes and mailing was about $25 per media rep and we got tremendous coverage for a Park that’s about a 90 minute drive from Pittsburgh – its closest major market. And, we won recognition from the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

Don’t take for granted the good news and stories that people would love to hear about regarding your company, brand, people and more. And, make sure you package it in such a way to overcome the noise that the media and people get drowned in every day.

Lastly, to paraphrase/quote Seth Godin – if you want people to make ‘REMARK’ about you do REMARKable things!

And, we’re blessed to have such a remarkable client in Idlewild & SoakZone.

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No Luck of the Irish Needed for Great Websites

Just in time for the annual ‘Season of St. Patrick’ that starts March 1 – and for the Great Guinness Toast that starts tonight at 11:00 p.m. at Irish Pubs throughout the world – we’re proud to report that our launch of a new Website for our good friends at Riley’s Pour House in Carnegie, PA is doing great!

In it’s first 2 ½ days of existence, the page views for Riley’s new Website outperformed the former proprietor’s Website performance for the entire year! Yes, you read that right!

What’s our secret? A little luck of the Irish maybe?

Maybe a little luck – we were lucky to land a great client that’s for sure.

However, far more credit goes to having a good solid brand to promote with good old fashioned hard work, Public Relations, Social Media Marketing integrations and excellent SEO writing inspired by a few pints of Guinness!

Yes my friends, Guinness is good for you!

Slainte!

P.S.: To help you along in March, here’s an old post about the 15 Marketing Lessons of St. Patrick’s Day – enjoy!

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BrandMill Helps 86 Breast Cancer

For nearly 10 years, we’ve been a supporter of the American Cancer Society and its mission of celebrating more birthdays throughout western Pennsylvania. We’ve participated as a Board Member, Marketing Committee Chairperson and general volunteer.

However, this year is shaping up to be one of our more meaningful, gratifying and fun years as we’ve helped the Pittsburgh Region (New East Central Region) more effectively promote its Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Event.

The NFL and locally the Pittsburgh Steelers are huge ‘Strides’ supporters. And a year ago, we proposed the idea of using popular (and future NFL Hall of Famer – if we had a vote) Steelers Hines Ward as an event spokesperson asking people to help, “86 Breast Cancer!” Note: The number 86 is Hines’ number. FYI – to “86 something” means to get rid of or eliminate.

Well, this year the Steelers and Hines agreed and helped the ACS air a unique Public Service announcement with Pittsburgh’s NBC affiliate WPXI-TV and news anchor Peggy Finnegan (a breast cancer survivor) to “86 Breast Cancer” which is what number 86 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is striving to do – and encouraging Pittsburghers to do!

Note: Hines and Peggy are joined in this first picture with American Cancer Society Regional Vice President Glenn Callihan.

Over and above the ’86 Breast Cancer” idea, we’ve supported the ACS brand as its Facebook marketing coach, initiated a sponsor meeting with the local Chevrolet Dealer Marketing Group of Pittsburgh (who raised nearly 15% of the total donations to date) and set up a television interview on Pittsburgh CBS affiliate KDKA-TV s Pittsburgh Today LIVE show.

Tim Colussy, Corina Diehl, Glenn Callihan, Kristine Sorensen

We’re always excited to work alongside brands to help them maximize all of the storytelling opportunities they have available to them and show them the way so they can even do it more effectively themselves. And, they are!

And as a result, I’m happy to report that the American Cancer Society’s 2nd annual Pittsburgh Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K Walk held on October 29, 2011 on Pittsburgh’s North Shore (just outside of Heinz Field) involved more than 3,000 walkers and helped raise nearly $300,000 – nearly twice the amount raised in 2010.

Participants included teams from Western Pennsylvania corporations, businesses and organizations that formed Making Strides teams, as well as participation from individuals, including breast cancer survivors, family members and friends.

Of course, the fight is not over yet! Donations will continue to be accepted in order to help the American Cancer Society reach their fundraising goal. Donations can still be made online at cancer.org/stridesonline or by calling 1.888.227.5445.

Proceeds from Making Strides Against Breast Cancer support the American Cancer Society’s life-saving breast cancer research, education, advocacy, patient services, and community partnership grants for women in Pittsburgh.

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Pittsburgh’s Priory Hotel New Wing Celebration

We love working on Grand Openings, Grand Re-Openings, New Product Launches and more!

Next to having your own baby, it’s got to be right up there in terms of great days if you love marketing and public relations like we do!

There’s just nothing like holding a special exciting event to kickoff a brand’s ‘NEW NEWS!”

And, it truly comes down to what YOU make of it.

Public Relations is an art that’s not practiced enough in our opinion for lots of reasons.

The biggest reason is because it’s hard work and most people don’t like to “bring it” and put the time in that’s necessary to do an exceptional job.

The second big reason is that the majority of brands are simply boring and adequate and have no interesting stories to tell.  What a shame.

We’re honored to work with lots of great brands such as our good friends at the Priory Hospitality Group.

And, when they asked us to help them kick off the grand opening of their new wing we jumped at the opportunity.

In the picture above, we had all of the key people responsible for getting the Priory Hotel’s new wing open for business such as co-owners and operators John and Suzanne Graf, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, key employees and the architect, builder and interior designer.

The $2.7 million expansion of The Priory added 17 rooms, a 70 percent expansion of the hotel’s capacity. Located in the Deutschtown section of the North Side, the hotel expanded into a building leveled by fire two years earlier.

This picture is a great representation of a Grand Opening done right.

We kept all of these key figures and media appraised of the opening event far in advance with our custom “Countdown to Go” grand opening list and started months ahead of the event to make sure we didn’t miss a detail and to ensure that our execution was flawless.

The result?

We achieved widespread media coverage in Pittsburgh’s major daily and community newspapers and all television networks.

And, as important, we earned the continued respect, endorsement and marketing partnership from the Priory and the Graf family.

Here’s a link to an online story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

It appeared on the front page of the Local News Section of the paper and is just one of several pieces of media coverage we earned.

As you prepare for 2012, think about the meaningful stories you can share with your local media and customers.

If you don’t have any, get to work on some. If you do, start planning – well in advance – to show and tell them!

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Colussy Chevrolet’s Place in Americana

Chevrolet will be kicking off a huge celebration in early November for its 100th Anniversary.

And, what many people do not know is Pittsburgh’s unique role in Chevrolet’s history courtesy of the Colussy family.

Check out this story by Teresa Lindeman which we earned for our newest client Colussy Chevrolet on the front page of today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Business Section – Colussy Chevrolet, A Place in Americana.

Chevy Runs Deep In Pittsburgh, PA

Congratulations to brothers Tim and Jon Colussy who now lead the third generation ownership of Colussy Chevrolet in Bridgeville, PA for their well deserved recognition. Chevrolet’s oldest dealership in America is now in its 93rd year of operation since 1918.

It’s true when they say that Chevy runs deep. Chevy runs deep in Pittsburgh, PA and a little deeper in Bridgeville, PA.

P.S.: Here is the first Road We’re On’ video from NYC’s Mother ad agency in preparation for Chevrolet’s 100th anniversary.  It’s the first in a series and features Bridgeville, PA and Colussy Chevrolet.  Enjoy – it’s excellent.

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Pirates Miss PNC Park Anniversary Tag

Your birthday.  Your spouse’s, kid’s, parent’s, grandparent’s, brother’s, sister’s etc., birthdays. Your wedding anniversary and/or your parent’s anniversary. The 4th of July – America’s anniversary. All big time events and occasions to celebrate right?

Well, as a ‘homer’ living in Pittsburgh, and as a professional marketer I’m baffled by the fact that the Pittsburgh Pirates marketing team did absolutely nothing – zero – not a thing – this season to celebrate the 10th anniversary of PNC Park (a gift by the citizens of Pittsburgh), arguably the best ballpark in all of Major League Baseball.

Hey, but don’t take my word that the Pirates’ PNC Park is the best, check out this brief  ranking list of the best Major League Baseball ballparks by some of the ‘folks that really know’:

YELP ranks PNC Park first

Fox Sports ranks PNC Park first

ESPN ranks PNC Park first

Forbes ranks PNC Park third

Now, certainly you can argue that PNC Park might not be the best Park in all of Major League Baseball, but you’d have to agree that it’s at least in the Top 5.  And, even if PNC Park wasn’t ranked that high, why wouldn’t you still take advantage of the significance of the date and celebrate all season long?

In fact, the symbolism for a 10th year anniversary for the Pittsburgh Pirates is incredible too.  The symbol for the 10th year anniversary is aluminum or tin and here we have one of the greatest companies ever headquartered in Pittsburgh – ALCOA – the Aluminum Company of America (its Headquarters is only .19 miles or 44 seconds from PNC Park) and the world’s leading producer of aluminum! And the designated gemstone of a 10 year anniversary is the diamond…get the symbolism, baseball diamond?

You could also argue, that the Pirates didn’t have much to celebrate and/or remember over the past 10 years, but don’t we all have bad years? It doesn’t mean you forgo celebrating your birth!

We do a ton of hospitality marketing consulting and anyone in the business will tell you the profitable, sales building significance of celebrations such as birthdays and anniversaries.

It’s sad and disappointing that the Pittsburgh Pirates missed the tag on the 10th anniversary of PNC Park. They would have hit the cover of the ball knocking it clear out of the Park and into the Allegheny River!

Don’t forget to step up to the plate and swing for the fences when your brand’s birthday/anniversary rolls around!

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Best Amusement Park for Kids and Families

Idlewild and SoakZone Best Park for Kids & Families

All of us at BrandMill are happy to report that one of our super clients – Idlewild & Soak Zone in Ligonier, PA (about an hour drive from Pittsburgh) – is now open and operating its 134th season of summer fun and has made a huge splash with its new water park attraction, “Wowabunga” Family Wave Pool.

New Wowabunga Family Wave Pool

 

Wowabunga features intermittent waves suitable for both younger and older guests as well as a “beach” area perfect for guests looking to soak up the summer sun. See awe-inspiring cirque entertainment all summer long at Cirque Extreme – Under the Big Top and enjoy the following special events – all included with the price of admission – and with free picnicking too:

  • June 13 – 17 & June 20 – 24 – BOGO Days
  • June 19 – Firefighter/EMS Family Appreciation Day
  • June 27 – July 3 – Showcase of Stars
  • July 4 – Fireworks
  • July 5 -8 – Antique & Classic Car Show and Parade
  • July 11 – 15 – Mister Rogers’ Neighbor Days
  • July 18 – 22 – Meet the Marvel Comic Super Heroes (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America)
  • July 25 -29 – Christmas In July
  • July 31 – Cheerleading Competition
  • August 12 – Italian Day Festa
  • August 22 – 26 – Car Load Days
  • October – Hallowboo!

For more details, check out this recent video on KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today LIVE featuring Park Spokesperson Jeff Croushore.

About Idlewild & ZoakZone

Founded in 1878 as a simple picnic ground along the Ligonier Valley Rail Road, Idlewild & SoakZone is the oldest amusement park in Pennsylvania and third-oldest in America. In addition, it is rated the best kid’s park in the world by Amusement Today magazine and the best park for families by the National Amusement Park Historical Association. Idlewild features seven fun theme areas such as SoakZone Waterpark, Story Book Forest and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood of Make-Believe.  Seasonal operations run through Labor Day and “Hallowboo,” a Halloween-themed event, takes place in October. Idlewild is part of the Palace Entertainment family which hosts over 13 million visitors annually at 40 locations across the country.  With 8 theme parks, 11 water parks and 21 family entertainment centers, Palace is the largest operator of water parks and family entertainment centers in the nation. For more information, call 724.238.3666 or visit http://www.idlewild.com and http://www.palaceentertainment.com.

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Authentic Marketing Helps Light Lives

These days you hear a ton about Cause Branding and Marketing and about authenticity and transparency in brand messaging.

Well, to see it first hand, check out this interview we set up for our friends at Light of Life Rescue Mission and good friend, former Pittsburgh Steeler and broadcaster Tunch Ilkin.

It’s easy to see how Tunch and Beth’s passion for the Mission enables it to attract volunteers and donors who help its staff make miracles happen every day by getting homeless men and women back on to bright path of recovery.

Net – it’s easy to ‘sell’ when you believe in your product and what you’re doing!

If you’d like to participate in Tunch & Wolf’s 9th Annual Walk for the Homeless on Saturday, May 9th, click here for more information.

Remember,when you light a lamp for someone else, you brighten your path too!

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