Dover Saddlery (NASDAQ: DOVR) --- the largest U.S. direct marketer of equestrian products, based in Littleton, Mass. ---was the first purely equestrian company to go public. After its $40M IPO in November 2005, CEO Stephen Day was invited by NASDAQ to “ring the bell” and open the market on March 30, 2006. To celebrate this milestone and to bolster Dover’s image and reputation among the national business and financial media, Off Madison Ave led a laser-focused media relations strategy to increase Dover Saddlery’s brand awareness and deliver its key messages to target audiences as a means to positively influence the stock price and trading activity.
With fewer than four weeks, Off Madison Ave planned a comprehensive PR program surrounding the bell ringing ceremony, and orchestrated a NASDAQ / Times Square-located press conference to draw business and financial media to discuss the emerging equestrian market and Dover Saddlery’s business prospects. The account team initially pitched a news angle focused around a group of “firsts” for the equestrian market: the fact that Dover was first IPO in this space; the fact that the World Equestrian Games would be held in the U.S. for the first time (in Lexington, Ky. in 2010), and the fact that Horse-TV, an all-horse cable network, launched recently. However, this pitch fell flat due to tepid interest from the national media because editors and producers didn’t see a lot of potential in the equestrian sector despite a Deloitte study predicting growth.
Off Madison Ave quickly looked for new angles with fewer than two days prior to the press conference, and recalled the client mentioning that Georgina Bloomberg, the 23-year-old daughter of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is a competitive rider and a huge fan of Dover Saddlery’s products. Off Madison Ave obtained Georgina’s phone number and contacted her directly about attending the press conference and discussing her upcoming plans to compete for the U.S. team in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Ms. Bloomberg agreed to attend without charging an appearance fee because this was a monumental event in the equestrian community, and she’s an avid supporter of the brand.
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg also appeared at the press conference to support his daughter and to share in her official announcement chasing Olympic gold. As a result, the confirmed media attendance went from two to 30 landing Dover Saddlery significant coverage in the Associated Press, Reuters, New York Daily News, New York Post and Newsday, as well as many others target outlets. CNBC’s, “On the Money,” which the PR team had been pitching in the weeks before the event, was impressed with the coverage and filmed a six-minute segment with Dover Saddlery CEO Stephen Day about the IPO and bell ringing ceremony, which was another “first” milestone for the equestrian industry – a segment dedicated solely to equestrian products, and on a national financial TV program.