ASHER MAILINGS BUILD INTEREST AS LEGOLAND RISES IN CALIFORNIA

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Last year about this time, Asher & Partners faced the challenge of promoting via direct mail a product in a crowded market even though the product was still under development.

The product was Legoland, and market was theme-park-thick southern California.

Lego Group was in the process of building a $130 million theme park in Carlsbad, Calif., and chose the Los Angeles agency to spearhead a $15 million campaign to introduce it to the public. The fact that the park wouldn't be open until March 1999 in itself presented a challenge, but the location offered another: This area of southern California has what many believe is the greatest concentration of theme parks in the world.

"There's Disneyland, Universal, Six Flags, the San Diego Zoo and Sea World right in Legoland's back yard," said Barry H. Schoenfeld, partner and director of business development at Asher.

"It was critical that we convey what the park is all about because this wasn't the case of building another roller coaster park," Mr. Schoenfeld said. "It is a park designed specifically for kids 2-12 and their families. No other park is like that. So direct mail, along with traditional advertising such as TV spots, was integral to the process of letting the public know."

STRENGTH OF BRAND

Asher capitalized on the strength of the Lego brand name in its direct mail push to sell season passes well in advance of opening day.

"Luckily for us, in terms of database and list management, there was an existing list through the Lego company of more than 2 million 'Legomaniacs' -- people who subscribe to their magazine and mail-order catalogs. . . . They are intensely almost cultish about Lego," Mr. Schoenfeld said.

From that list, 175,000 mailings were sent out. A little more than 125,000 went around Christmas time to people in the five counties surrounding Legoland. An additional 50,000 letters were mailed as a follow-up after New Year's Day, mainly to people in San Diego County, where the park is located.

The mailings' local emphasis was based on the fact that 80% of tourism in California comes from its own residents, said Legoland Marketing Director Marianne Flowers.

A total of 62,000 passes were sold as a result of the mailings, said Account

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