With a very big cleanup still on its hands and thousands of visitors on the way, New Orleans has signed Glad as lead sponsor for this year’s Mardi Gras. Glad, a joint venture between Clorox Co. and 20% owner Procter & Gamble Co., will be featured in TV and print advertising for the event, which will go on as planned, focused heavily around the largely recovered French Quarter as the city struggles to recover five months after Hurricane Katrina struck.
Glad also is in talks with Eli Manning, quarterback of the New York Giants, to participate in its marketing and public-relations efforts around Mardi Gras, according to people familiar with the matter. Like two top executives of the Glad business -- including Beth Springer, president of the unit -- Mr. Manning is a native of New Orleans, where his father was for years quarterback for the Saints.
’There’s a lot of trash’
“Since this is the first major tourist event for people to come back to the region, we want to make sure the city can pull off the event as they want and that it’s clean before, during and after,” said David Friedler, marketing director for Glad trash bags and also a New Orleans native. “We think we’ll be pretty visible. … I’ve been to plenty of Mardi Gras. There’s a lot of trash.”
Glad already has donated 1.2 million ForceFlex trash bags to the Gulf Coast cleanup through the Clorox Foundation and donated another 100,000 as part of the sponsorship. Glad also will sponsor a pre-Mardi-Gras “Katrina Krew” cleanup Feb. 23 to tidy up the French Quarter in advance of the celebration as well as work with the New Orleans Sanitation department during the event, using as a staging area the Ernest Morial Convention Center central to much of the post-Katrina humanitarian crisis. Glad, moreover, also will host a post-event cleanup March 4.
During the parades and other festivities, Glad will be handing out samples of ForceFlex trash bags. “In the days of media fragmentation, when it’s harder to reach your consumer, we’re always looking for new ways to reach our target consumer in a relevant way,” Mr. Friedler said. “This gives us a great way to support an important revitalization effort and put our bags in the hands of consumers.”
Mr. Friedler isn’t sure how many people will show up for Mardi Gras this year, given the publicity balanced against the potential for an outpouring of national sympathy for the beleaguered city. Based on booking activity at homes of his relatives, however, he believes turnout could be robust. “I know all the houses of my aunts and uncles are going to be filled,” he said, “but that’s the only data I’ve got.”
Independent media-buying club MediaBuys handled the deal for New Orleans. Clorox is working with Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Weber Shandwick on the public relations effort surrounding its sponsorship.