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Media Promo & PR, Case study
Released July 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Best Use of Media Relations
Product/Service: MEDIA RELATIONS
Chief Executive Officer: Kurt Schneider (Harlem Globetrotters)
Vice President of Communications: Brett Meister (Harlem Globetrotters)
Public Relations Manager: Scott Johnson (Harlem Globetrotters)
Vice President: Chris Brienza (Coyne Public Relations)
Vice President: Lisa Wolleon (Coyne Public Relations)
Vice President: Wayne Catan (Coyne Public Relations)
Account Supervisor: Erin Bobal (Coyne Public Relations)
Senior Account Executive: Lauren Curtin (Coyne Public Relations)
Assistant Account Executive: Gracie Blackburn (Coyne Public Relations)
Media placement: TV - FOX, ABC, CBS, NBC, etc. - 1 March 2009
Media placement: Print - Sports Illustrated, O, The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times, Allure, The Wall - 1 March 2009
Media placement: Online - TMZ, US Magazine, Sporting News Today, etc. - 1 March 2009

Summary of the Campaign
The Harlem Globetrotters and our agency garnered nearly 1.2 billion media impressions for their outreach efforts around the team’s 2009 Spinning the Globe Tour, achieved with a mission of elevating awareness for the 'classic' Globetrotters brand while also re-establishing the team’s place in the mainstream pop culture conversation. From creating 'inaugural basketballs' for the hoops-loving President to being the first team to send a basketball into space to appearances on top-rated prime time network reality shows, the PR teams were able to re-ignite the buzz around a team that’s been a global institution for more than eight decades.

The Goal
The objectives of the campaign were to generate consumer awareness across all media categories for the Harlem Globetrotters at both the national and local levels; re-establish the Globetrotters within America’s pop culture consciousness; elevate the profile of the Globetrotters among key demographics: moms/parents, sports-minded dads and kids 12 and under; and create awareness for the brand among business/trade media to reach potential sponsorship partners. Audience research uncovered that fans view the Globetrotters as entertaining, family-oriented, memorable and a good value; 63% of its consumer base works full-time and is active online; and that mums made the decisions for family entertainment.

The Globetrotters crushed the billion media impressions mark for the first time in the team’s history, generating more than 1.2 billion impressions (an increase of more than 22% over the previous year). With more than 9,900 individual media placements, the result was a CPM of only USD 0.10 per impression. Reality television coverage reached more than 44.2 million viewers. The team set box office records in 62 (out of 210) North American markets, and set an all-time team record for gross tour revenue. The team increased sponsorship revenue by more than 200%, with new national sponsorships including IHOP family restaurants, Spalding basketballs, America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses and Crayola. And finally, online traffic at HarlemGlobetrotters.com grew substantially, with a 32.6% increase in total traffic and a 49.1% increase in unique visitors.

The PR team looked to capitalise on newsworthy opportunities whenever possible, while creating some of their own on a modest budget. Some of the season’s highlights included: • Honouring the final days of Philadelphia’s famous Spectrum by playing the first game ever on its roof. • Making history by becoming the first team to send a basketball into space (part of the Space Shuttle Atlantis mission). • Serving up a tribute to the troops by introducing the first-ever camouflaged basketball, for their games at military bases in Kuwait and Iraq. • Going mainstream by appearing on numerous reality television shows, including The Bachelorette, Hell’s Kitchen and Amazing Race. • Presenting an offer to the newly unemployed Conan O’Brien to join the Washington Generals. • Playing the first-ever professional basketball game on ice (in Central Park). • And the team just completed the first-ever glow-in-the-dark basketball game by partnering with Crayola.

The Situation
The Harlem Globetrotters, the world famous basketball team with an 83-year history that has played in more than 120 countries, were coming off one of the most successful seasons in their illustrious history - one in which the team was able to effectively RE-re-brand itself as the fun-loving, Washington Generals-crushing entertainment troupe America grew up on, rather than the loose collection of semi-competitive NBA castoffs that had been masquerading as Globetrotters for four years. For their next tour, the PR team was being charged with something a bit more complex: making the team part of the nation’s pop culture conversation again.

The Strategy
The PR team looked to capitalise on news and current events year round, when appropriate, to build ongoing awareness for the brand. From stadium closings and openings to creating a Globetrotters Draft Day, the team left no stone unturned to find potential news hooks. The team developed and executed newsworthy events and stunts that focused on the fun, entertaining nature of the Harlem Globetrotters and their players. The team also looked to leverage the reservoir of goodwill and good memories the team and its players have created throughout their history to attract celebrities for special events and moments that make news, create "buzz" and build brand awareness in multiple coverage areas. The key to the campaign’s success would rely heavily on utilizing the unique and recognisable Globetrotter appeal for outreach to broad consumer media, and maintaining consistent coverage to keep the team top of mind with media and consumers.