SAVE THE PEAK for Land Trust

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Industry Charities, Foundations, Volunteers
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United States
Released July 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Charity and Not for Profit
Chief Marketing Officer: Jay Dean (The Trust For Public Land)
Director/ Marketing Services: Kristen Anderson (The Trust For Public Land)
Director/ Media Relations: Tim Ahern (The Trust For Public Land)
City Councilman: Tom LaBonge (City of Los Angeles)
Press Secretary: Carolyn Ramsey (City of Los Angeles)
Manager: Rachel Rogers (AtomicPR)
Media placement: All media - 3,492,646,365 impressions globally - 8 Feb to 31 March 2010

Summary of the Campaign
In February 2010, a non-profit organisation covered the Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles with banners that spelled 'SAVE the PEAK'. The goal is to raise $12.5 million to purchase Cahuenga Peak, the 138 acres behind and to the left of the sign. At the time of writing the campaign has been hugely successful, generating over 2 billion impressions. Covering the sign was a nearly impossible task. We believe it will never be covered again. There has been a worldwide outpouring of affection and we are well on our way to receiving the donations needed to save the peak forever.

The Goal
The goal of the Campaign Save Cahuenga Peak is to raise $12.5 million to purchase the property before the option expires on April 14, 2010. The public campaign was launched on February 11, 2010 at a point when we had quietly raised half of the needed funds from public and private sources. The primary target audience is philanthropically-inclined individuals and corporations with the capacity to write large checks. A secondary goal is to raise awareness of our group among the general public to raise funds for the campaign and to create a broad donor base to support future work.

Update as of April 27, 2010: we raised USD 12.5 million to save the peak! Virtually every news agency in the world from Australia to Zimbabwe covered the story: BBC, NYT, LA Times, WSJ, Times of London, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Pravda, China Daily. CNN carried the launch live. Meltwater reports 7.2 billion impressions valued at USD 66.7 million during the 2½ months of the campaign. We have 28,000 Facebook fans. The PR strategy worked: the major studios and other Hollywood notables such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Tom Hanks donated over USD 3 million. Hugh Hefner donated USD 900K to close the final gap. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger raised money on our behalf and made the announcement at our final press conference. A Harris Interactive poll conducted a few days after we covered the sign revealed that 22% of adults in the U.S. had seen, read or heard about the stunt. In California, the percentage was 41%.

For six days in February 2010 we covered the Hollywood Sign with banners that spelled out 'SAVE the PEAK'. Securing permission from the City of Los Angeles and other decision-makers was a nearly impossible task. There were laws, rules, policies, procedures, and countless other obstacles. Current policy is not to alter the sign in any way. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce routinely turns down $1 million offers. Neighborhood groups lobby to prevent stunts. Our engineers spent weeks doing calculations to show that the sign would not be harmed. The company that manufactured and installed the banners had to overcome the challenges of steep slopes and 45 foot tall letters and the requirement of not doing any harm whatsoever to this historic resource. We believe the Hollywood sign will never be covered again.

The Situation
Our non-profit group creates parks and conserves land. In 2009 we acquired an option to purchase Cahuenga Peak, 138 acres of land behind and to the left of the Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles. If sold by its owners to private individuals, luxury estates will be built on the peak, forever ruining one of the most famous views in the world. If preserved, Cahuenga Peak will be added to Griffith Park, protecting spectacular 360 degree views of the LA Basin, hiking trails, and a pristine ecosystem of species not believed to exist anywhere else.

The Strategy
The Hollywood Sign is beloved. It symbolises not only Los Angeles, but the entertainment industry itself. For many people around the world it represents American culture. Our strategy was to focus less on the ecological and recreational benefits of saving Cahuenga Peak, and more on the fact that preserving it would protect the view of one of the world’s most iconic landmarks. We believed that if we could attract local, national, and even worldwide attention to the campaign to save the peak, we would encourage high capacity philanthropists and members of the Hollywood community to step forward and donate the funds needed to protect Cahuenga Peak. We thought that if we could attract attention, how could industry leaders not step forward?