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Mint taps Golin for Presidential coin outreach
by Frank Washkuch

The US Mint is working with GolinHarris on a campaign promoting the use of presidential $1 coins as common currency.
The effort's PR budget is as much as $2.4 million for the first year with an option to renew for subsequent years if both parties are satisfied, said Patrick McAfee, director, US Mint Office of Dollar Coin Programs.

“What we are trying to achieve is that people would use presidential $1 coins just like they would use dollars and coins,” McAfee said.

Interpublic Group's (which Golin is part of) advertising agency Campbell-Ewald and marketing organization Momentum Worldwide are working with Golin on the campaign, which has a total budget of $12 million for the year. Golin is leading the cross-agency effort while Campbell-Ewald is managing advertising efforts and Momentum Worldwide is conducting retailer outreach.

The campaign's test phase will begin this July in Charlotte, NC; Austin, TX; Grand Rapids, MI; and Portland, OR. Golin is conducting media outreach to local and regional publications, and organizing promotions with retailers prior to launching a national campaign, said Wendy Love, Golin EVP.

GH is planning events, said Love, who added that a campaign Web site is also in development.

Golin is emphasizing the environmental and economic benefits of using the coins instead of paper money, noting that they are recyclable and can save the US up to $5 billion in a decade, said Love.

“We really need a compelling reason for people to change their behavior towards the dollar coin in general. This campaign is designed to focus on the fact that these coins are 100% recyclable and that they last for a long time, which saves natural resources and money,” she said. “The thing we are testing with this campaign is the idea that there is a different sort of benefit with using this coin.”

The test portion of the effort will run through November; it was not planned to coincide with the presidential election, Love said.

An undetermined number of Golin staffers will work on the campaign, which the agency will run from its Chicago and Washington offices. The account was awarded April 23, though only recently announced.

McAfee said two agencies pitched in a one-round RFP process, but he declined to name the losing agency. The Mint and Golin do not have a prior relationship. Procurement led the agency search for the Mint, he noted.

Previous promotional efforts successfully reached students, but the ongoing campaign seeks to popularize the coins for use in everyday transactions, as opposed to as keepsakes, Love said.

“During the first year, the first four coins were released and they were very popular as a collectible, because children are in school learning the presidents and this is a very good way to learn the presidents in order,” she said. “This is not focused so much on education, and not focused so much on collecting all the presidents over the years, but it's focused more in using the coin for the dollar amount.”

The US Mint awarded a one-year contract, worth approximately $5 million, to Weber Shandwick in 2006 to run a national communications campaign for the presidential coins.

However, that campaign was focused on public awareness of the coins, while the current campaign centers on increasing the coins' circulation, McAfee said.

WS is now doing other support work for the Mint, but the division of the US Treasury Department works with no other PR agencies, he said.

Jennifer Norton, WS VP and director of corporate communications, declined to comment on the news.

The mint released the first presidential coin, depicting President Washington, last February with successive coins distributed roughly every three months thereafter. The most recent $1 coin, depicting President John Quincy Adams, was made available to the public on May 15.



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