Creative public relations can draw upon many resources and I can recall at least two instances when a bear and an elephant generated headlines in publicizing an event.
At a Miami Beach sports and travel show in the late 1960s, in addition to golf and fly-casting demonstrations, and personal appearances by former Cleveland Indians star pitcher Bob Feller, a dancing bear named Rosie attracted considerable attention with her terpsichorean talents.
A Miami Herald city editor accepted my suggestion for an “interview” with Rosie, and I arranged to drive her and the trainer to the city room. He had a conflict, but said, “hey you can drive her to the paper yourself.”
Finally convinced Rosie wouldn’t mistake me for lunch, I departed for the Herald with a muzzled Rosie in the passenger seat. Not surprisingly, whenever we stopped for a traffic light, motorists gaped at the unusual passenger and sounded their horns The only greater surprise would have been Rosie driving.
At our destination I managed to coax Rosie into an elevator to the second-floor city room where immediately pandemonium broke out.The Herald’s chief photographer suggested seating Rosie at the desk of the business editor—who had a somewhat bearlike resemblance—and photographed her amid much merriment among the staffers, whose noise in the newsroom caught the attention of publisher John S. Knight.
Viewing the scene, he exclaimed, “What’s this all about, Stuart? I thought all of your clients were hotels?”
“Mr. Knight,” I replied, “this bear just bought an ocean front hotel!”
But the stunt produced the desired results, with a photo and caption that generated interest and increased attendance for the show.
And the elephant? Well, we’ll relate that saga another time.