2013 Platinum PR Awards: Marketing Communications

Winner: The Asian Art Museum - Operation: Lost Warrior

San Francisco's Asian Art Museum (AAM) kicked off its 10th year in its Civic Center location with an exhibition from one of the greatest archaeological discoveries: China's Terracotta Warriors. The Emperor's First Legacy features 10 terracotta figures and 110 objects from underground sites surrounding the First Emperor's tomb and early Qin dynasty burial chambers.

To promote this blockbuster exhibition, AAM launched a tightly integrated PR and marketing campaign that was bold, memorable and unconventional. Its objectives were to create early awareness and buzz to help maximize exhibition revenue and attendance; generate awareness of the museum's location in San Francisco's Civic Center; position AAM as bold and living up to its new brand promise; and to “awaken the past, inspire the next.”

A month prior to the exhibition opening, AAM launched Operation: Lost Warrior. The premise of the campaign was this: The terracotta warriors are on their way to AAM from China. Along the way, one warrior gets separated from his friends, and is now lost in the Bay Area. AAM launched an urgent search and sought the public's help locating and directing the lost warrior to the museum before the opening. Other strategies included involving as many partners as possible. As a result, the campaign featured over 30 partners, including media organizations, shopping centers, hotels, and tourist and cultural attractions.

The campaign's effect was amplified as partners got the word out, and then again when the warrior made appearances at their location. During the campaign traffic to the exhibition landing page tripled and the response on social media was overwhelmingly positive. AAM saw increased levels of engagement on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and the campaign generated 15,000 new Twitter followers.

Honorable mentions:

  • Broadhead + Company - The Pursuit of 300: The Road to Higher Yields
  • Discover Student Loans – Stop the Panic!
  • Grey Canberra - Australian War Memorial: The Lone Nurse
  • Hanna Lee Communications - The World's Most Talked About and Most Profitable Bar Opening:  The Dead Rabbit, a "Gangs of New York" Style Cocktail Saloon
  • Makovsky + Company - Usage Survey: Taking on America’s Number One Killer
  • Novo Nordisk Inc. with Marina Maher Communications and The Rose Group  - Diabetes in a New Light
  • SBC Advertising - Elmer’s Celebrates First Day of School with Moms Nationwide