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By Published on .

The Smithsonian Institution begins its 150th birthday celebration this week, and Intel Corp., Discover Card Services and MCI Communications Corp. are paying for the party favors.

The celebration is being organized by sports and event marketing agency 21st Century Marketing, Greenwich, Conn. Its president, Robert Prazmark, came up with a plan after visiting the Smithsonian in 1991, realizing the milestone was approaching and later learning the institution had no plans to commemorate it.


Mr. Prazmark is assembling seven to 10 sponsors. He expects to close a deal with an airline this week. Each sponsor is paying $10 million ($4.5 million in media including 12 print ads in Smithsonian magazine) to fund the following:

Two TV specials on CBS, the first airing Jan. 25. Intel will kick off a Smithsonian-theme campaign on the show from Dahlin Smith White, Salt Lake City.

Some 25 "Smithsonian Minutes," the first of which broke last week. Talk about synergy: One Discover-sponsored spot has country music star Trisha Yearwood (whose tour Discover is sponsoring) talking about the ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz" (Discover has been featuring the slippers in recent "There's no place like the Smithsonian" print ads from DDB Needham Worldwide, Chicago).

A two-year, 12-city tour of the same artifacts featured in the "Minutes"-from moon rocks to George Washington's sword-that begins Feb. 9 in Los Angeles. Tickets are free but can be reserved with a Discover card.


Sponsors get 3,000-square-foot exhibits; Intel has built a computer big enough for visitors to stroll around its insides. Intel will also do intensive local promotions in each market the tour visits.

MCI will market a Smithsonian phone card and is considering a promotion in which the nation's No. 2 long-distance company will make a donation to the institution in the name of customers who switch from AT&T.

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