In 1996, Target Stores collaborated with the National Park Foundation to help restore the Washington Monument. Over the course of the four-year interior and exterior renovation — the largest project of its kind — Target donated over $4 million and raised another $2.5 million from its vendor partners. The July 4, 2000, $10 million Washington Monument project completion would be a significant, national news story. Obtaining coverage for the Monument’s restoration would not be difficult. However, throughout the four-year restoration process, the media largely ignored Target’s support and contributions. Our challenge — to insinuate Target in news stories about the restoration project — was a delicate balancing act. Too subtle and the message would be lost. Too overt and the company could face criticism for commercializing the restoration of a sacred national monument.
PT&Co. recommended an approach that blended an outreach directly to consumers – by creatively using one of Target’s strongest icons, the bull’s eye logo – with a communications platform directed to government officials and the media. Called Red, White and New, the initiative was designed to strongly reinforce Target’s leadership role in the Monument’s restoration and communicate the message that this restoration is yet another significant moment in the Monument’s history. It was also intended to create a “buzz” throughout the Washington, D.C. area so that Target was visible throughout all coverage of the Monument’s reopening. We also provided specific recommendations on how to create a “defining moment” so that Target could optimize exposure during the actual reopening ceremony. Finally, we recommended how Red, White and New might play out at the Target Store level for store guests.
We faced several obstacles in obtaining media coverage:
- Though Target had funded the restoration process for three years, most media coverage focused solely on the restoration and/or the role played by the National Park Service government and its non-profit, fundraising arm, the National Park Foundation.
- Government regulations prohibited offering media “exclusive” story angles thus preventing the opportunity to tailor media pitches.
- We also could not allow individual broadcast media “previews” of the Monument’s interior.
- Consequently, we were unable to accommodate requests for exclusive coverage or access to the Monument prior to the July 4th holiday.
- Finally, we only were hired three months before the unveiling of the Monument, effectively missing most long lead-time media deadlines.
In light of the lack of prior restoration media coverage, PT&Co. investigated the role of the Monument throughout our country’s history and uncovered numerous facts and historical elements that brought the restoration to life in new ways that hadn’t been explored with the media in prior stories. Agency determined that a number of stories that would appeal to a broad variety of media, including: news, history/society, design/architecture, entertainment, features/lifestyles, travel and women’s outlets, among others.
Agency worked with Target events marketing team, the National Park Service and National Park Foundation to orchestrate a media outreach campaign that would bring together the private/public/non-profit partnership story, along with the new research on the Monument’s history to create compelling news stories. The strategy was to develop a variety of stories that would appeal to the broadest segment of media and garner coverage both prior to, during the July 4th weekend unveiling events and following ceremonies.
Generate awareness and coverage of Target’s lead involvement in restoring the Washington Monument and, by extension, of the company’s ongoing commitment to America.
- Target Store guests
- Potential Target Store guests
- National/local government leaders
- The design community
- The retail industry
- The travel industry
- Washington, D.C. area residents and tourists
Build anticipation/excitement prior to the reopening of the Washington Monument, highlighting Target’s leadership role in the renovation, via a series of “teaser” initiatives.
Utilize/enhance the July 3rd and 4th ceremonies to underscore/spotlight Target’s lead involvement in the Monument’s restoration.
Incorporate Target’s distinctive bull’s eye logo in a tasteful way throughout the program.
Leverage Target’s role in the restoration story by providing the only interior video footage to media prior to the July 4th holiday.
Highlight Target’s role in convincing renowned architect Michael Graves to spearhead the Monument’s restoration.
Reach long lead-time media via coverage of Washington, D.C. as a hot travel destination and Target’s role in restoring a key capital attraction, the Washington Monument.
Media tactics used for the campaign included:
Red, White and New Postcard Campaign: In the month leading up to the Washington Monument’s official unveiling, conduct “Countdown Campaign” to strongly reinforce Target’s leadership role in the restoration and communicate the message that this restoration is yet another significant milestone in the Monument’s history.
Media Strategy: To provide key news, features/lifestyle, parenting, design, general interest, travel and entertainment media with a variety of news stories, agency pitched each of the key outlets on individualized stories that relied on the research about the Monument’s history and significance. PT&Co. employed this strategy during the press event and media tours of the newly restored interior to ensure a variety of news stories would be generated by the event.
Press Kit: Incorporating the Red, White and New theme, we developed a comprehensive press kit about the restoration projection, including: new information about the Monument’s interior restoration, Monument facts and figures, information about the newly commissioned “Washington Waltz”, and Monument photos.
Press Event: PT&Co. worked with Target Events Marketing to invite key media, VIPs, and government officials to a July 3rd event at the base of the Monument. For this event, we drafted media advisories, speeches for Target executives, and coordinated a photo opportunity with Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, Target executives and a group of school children. PT&Co. also orchestrated a series of tours of the newly restored Monument interior throughout July 3rd.
VNR/B-roll: Featuring the “hard-hat” in-the-works construction of the newly restored interior of the Monument, along with sound bites from Michael Graves, Target executives, National Parks department and National Park Foundation spokespersons, the VNR/b-roll was distributed to the media July 1 to offer a the first-hand glimpse of the four-year project in its final stages.
A Musical Tribute to the Monument: In an homage to the past, Target continues a tradition begun in 1884, when the “Washington Waltz” was composed in honor of the Monument’s dedication. To celebrate the restoration, PT&Co. recommended Target commission the U.S. Armed Forces Band to re-score the original composition and play it at the July 3rd unveiling ceremony.
Red, White and New Collateral: To provide additional visibility in Washington, D.C. during the July 4th weekend celebrations, Target provided 10,000 bottles of “Red, White and New” logoed bottled waters at the July 3rd unveiling event and to the public attending the July 4th Mall fireworks.
Michael Graves’ Designed Commemorative Gift: To celebrate the restoration, Target commissioned Michael Graves to create a replica of the capstone of the Monument for all event attendees.
We met our objectives – to generate awareness of Target’s lead involvement in restoring the Washington Monument and, by extension, of the company’s ongoing commitment to America. Target’s criteria for success was: increased media coverage that included Target’s contributions to the effort and increased major media attendance at the press event.
Increased Media Coverage: Agency generated more than 227,000,000 media impressions within a one month period. Coverage was secured in national media in which Target was seeking visibility and recognition included: Associated Press, Reuters, CNN, NPR, FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, National Public Radio, Washington, D.C. affiliates, The New York Times, Washington Post, and top major market newspapers with Target stores.
Increased Event Attendance: More than 80 members of the media, representing all major news outlets, including the five television networks, cable news and Washington, D.C. affiliates attended, covered the event and highlighted Target’s role in the restoration. CNN, in fact, broadcast the entire day from the base of the Monument thus providing repeated Target mentions.
1000 Government, Dignitaries and Key Media Received the Red, White and New Teaser Mailings, creating a pre-event “buzz” about the final portion of the 4-year restoration.
Success of VNR/b-roll: The VNR/b-roll, which provided the only pre-event footage of the Monument’s interior, was released the weekend prior to the July 3rd unveiling event and generated 4.8 million media impressions. Additionally cable and local affiliates utilized the footage in coverage beyond the July 4th holiday.
Success of Red, White and New Merchandise at Target Stores: Target sold the complete inventory of commemorative July 4th 2000 monument merchandise prior to the July 4th holiday.