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December 1999

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Discount 'I Do'

Retailers donate wedding items to publicity event of the year

What started as a seemingly tacky publicity stunt ended up being, well, a romantic and discreet publicity stunt, according to those who attended Tom Anderson and Sabrina Root's sponsored wedding this summer in Glenside, PA. The couple, who wanted a fairy-tale wedding for a comic-book price, secured $30,000 in donations from local businesses by promising to display each contributor's name six times before and during the event.

Something Borrowed...

Anderson and Root bought the engagement ring and wedding dress, then asked 24 businesses to donate everything else – flowers, music, invitations, bridesmaid gifts, makeovers, hairstyling, sushi, the cake and more. Sponsors had their names inserted into invitations, printed on cards at the buffet and scrolls at the dinner tables, included in newspaper ads, read during the toast and distributed in post-event thank-you cards.

The August wedding attracted the attention of media locally and nationally. CNN, Forbes, People, The National Enquirer and metropolitan TV news programs all reported on the event. Everybody, it seemed, expected the event to be distasteful.

Investigative Reporting

"A reporter and photographer came in with [Anderson and Root] when they came to pick out the bands," says Lee Pavorsky of L.L. Pavorsky, a jeweler in Philadelphia who donated 18k engraved bands for the wedding. "The reporter grilled me like it was Watergate. She asked 'Were you going to let her pick anything in the store? What if she wanted diamonds?' She was looking for an angle."
In fact, the couple were sweet, low-key and very modest in their choice of wedding rings, Pavorsky says, and guests agreed the wedding itself was lovely.

"It was a nice experience, and I was happy to be part of it," says Pavorsky. His donation generated some publicity for his store, mostly reaching current customers who recognized his distinctive store logo in the newspaper photo or saw his name in the thank-you ads.

The episode also created and opportunity to spend some time with new customers and let them get to know his store, perhaps enticing them them to return as customers in the future. "They also had a lot of friends and family members who were interested in our jewelry," he says.

by Stacey King


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Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.



 

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