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Twelve Oaks Mall Expansion


Retail public relationsAfter 30 years in operation, Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, Michigan wanted to underscore its major importance as a premier shopping center and to reinforce its status as the center of choice in Southeastern Michigan. Shoppers in its affluent trading area had long requested opening a Nordstrom on the mall property.

Taubman Centers, Inc. - which owns and manages Twelve Oaks Mall – expanded the shopping center with a new wing, anchored by Nordstrom and 40 additional stores. Securing a Nordstrom served as the catalyst for the strategic expansion. The project was completed in late September, 2007, to overwhelming acclaim and much excitement, but several obstacles first had to be overcome.

The economy of Southeast Michigan had been lackluster for the past few years as the domestic auto companies confronted increasing competitive pressures. Thousands of workers had been laid off, thereby negatively impacting the economic base of metro Detroit. Questions remained – is this a good time to expand retail opportunities in a challenged region?

At the same time as the opening of the Nordstrom wing expansion, a possible shutdown of the state of Michigan government loomed. We had to determine how the media’s focus could shift to our agenda and how to generate awareness about the addition of a 5th anchor and 40 new stores at an existing shopping center in metro Detroit. Anticipated media topics would be “Why Michigan?” “Why open in a troubled economy?” “How can business expect to thrive?”

Despite the economic concerns, much enthusiasm and anticipation in the community surrounded the grand opening of the Twelve Oaks Mall expansion. Leadership at Taubman Centers, Inc. felt so strongly about new retail opportunities in Southeast Michigan, that the company invested several million dollars to open a new outdoor shopping complex in mid-October, 2007 on the region’s east side – The Mall at Partridge Creek. Nearly a decade had passed since a new mall was introduced to the region – with the latest project being the opening of Great Lakes Crossing in the late 1990s. Research confirmed that consumers were seeking new outlets in which to shop and spend.

Communicating the positive message to the public and generating buzz and shopper traffic on the opening would draw potential customers from all over Southeastern Michigan to the opening day of the Twelve Oaks Mall expansion.
We aimed to garner as much media attention as possible prior to and on the opening day of the Nordstrom wing on September 28. The goals of the events were to reach out to existing and potential shoppers in the region, alert consumers of the mall expansion and wide-variety of new stores, highlight the new and remodeled stores at the center, draw widespread media attention and to secure positive brand positioning to the region.

We created significant buzz in the days leading up to the opening by offering numerous preview stories to the television and print media from hard hat tours and walk-throughs of the center, to a sneak peek just before the center’s grand opening.

A key point in our communication strategy was to highlight retailers new to the state of Michigan. We emphasized what distinguished each store and what kinds of customers would be the key demographics for each one. Press releases were drafted and distributed to the media decision-makers, highlighting all the new stores in the Nordstrom wing.

We reached out directly to retailers about who would be available to talk to media and suggested the best products for television and print photos. We prepared the store representatives for the anticipated press questions of why they were coming to Michigan at this particular time.

Marx Layne and Company managed all angles of the opening events – from communication with all the major television news, radio, and print outlets in Detroit; to working with the stores to determine who would speak to media; assisting stores in selecting merchandise that best highlighted the store’s image; doing brief interviews with the first ten customers in line and giving their stories to the media, coordinating parking logistics for media and the crowds anticipated on opening day; and being the on-site media specialists. We suggested packaged news segments to the media and offered numerous business and feature opportunities.
To create advance interest about the Twelve Oaks expansion, we were in direct contact with all the local television news, radio, and print outlets to preview the big day. We got the word out via extensive media coverage. Numerous stories appeared in the weeks ahead on WJBK FOX 2, WDIV-TV 4, WXYZ-TV 7, WWJ Newsradio 950, The Detroit News and The Detroit Free Press. The media helped us get the word out that the first 450 customers would receive gift bags full of gifts and promotions to the stores on opening day.

Beginning before dawn on the day of the opening, television news crews broadcast live from the mall, highlighting the huge crowd that gathered and urged viewers to come out to the shopping center. With the help of our suggested news segments, the stations informed their viewers about the events going on that day to create widespread local interest.

Key players in the center’s opening were on-hand to talk to media. Taubman Company CEO Robert Taubman spoke about the excitement of the new center. The Taubman Company communicated why the developer is deeply rooted in Michigan for the long-term. According to Robert Taubman, “We have faith in the Michigan economy to rebound.” Twelve Oaks’ General Manager also spoke about the many new changes to the mall, and the Marketing Manager discussed the giveaways and promotions associated with the opening.

We positioned numerous Taubman Company, Inc. officials to speak to media representatives about the details surrounding the Nordstrom wing opening. We coordinated several interviews with print, television, and radio outlets for the general manager and marketing director of Twelve Oaks Mall.

Marx Layne & Company was involved with numerous meetings, conference calls, and e-mails before the opening of the expansion wing. In the days before the grand opening, several of our staffers were on-site at Twelve Oaks for walk-throughs of the new wing and to guide the pre-interviews with journalists. We were in close communication with Taubman and Nordstrom officials to ensure the live and taped interviews were implemented flawlessly and ran on schedule.
Media coverage prior to, and on the event day, was extensive. Several stories had prominent placement in The Detroit News, The Detroit Free Press, Novi News, and other community publications. On the day of the opening, WJBK-FOX 2, WDIV-TV 4, and WXYZ-TV 7 sent on-air talent to the site. WJBK FOX 2 devoted 2 to 3 live hits per hour during its four-hour morning news program from 5:00-9:00 a.m. on September 28. They also included coverage in their 11:00 a.m. newscast and throughout the rest of the day. WDIV- TV 4 had coverage running all day, as did WXYZ-TV 7. Print reporters and radio outlets were at the shopping center as well, including WWJ Newsradio 950, and several cable outlets.

Beginning two months before, and for a month afterward, extensive print, radio, and television coverage ran on the Twelve Oaks wing expansion. Customer response was extremely positive. The Mall had anticipated 600 people on the morning of September 28. As a result of the extensive media coverage secured by Marx Layne & Company, in combination with a complementary ad campaign, more than 2,500 people were on hand for the grand opening festivities as the mall doors opened.


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