By: Joe Strupp
Some people may believe newspapers have gone to the dogs. But in New Jersey and Minnesota, it’s more like bears and dolphins. At The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., and The Star-Tribune of Minneapolis, new arrivals at zoos have made for new marketing opportunities.
The Star-Ledger used the arrival of two black bear cubs at the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, N.J., to launch its competition, which drew 3,738 votes in 11 days in late July, according to City Editor Steve Liebman. He said more than 2,700 of these were e-mailed, while at least 1,000 readers clipped entry forms from the print edition and mailed them in. When the votes were counted, the winning entries were “Jelly” and “Jam.” Zoo administrators then staged a naming ceremony with local elected officials.
Out in Minneapolis, meanwhile, it was a newborn baby dolphin at the Minnesota Zoo that sparked a similar move. Unlike the Star-Ledger, Star-Tribune officials limited their naming competition to the Internet, allowing only online entries for the contest that ran from July 28 through Aug. 18. Such restrictions did not seem to matter; more than 10,000 online submissions were received during the first week.
Ginny Linehan, a Star- Tribune account executive who oversees the name game, says the promotion is “giving people a way to be involved and generating attention for the zoo. The zoo is also promoting the paper on its Web site.” But, unlike the Star-Ledger, which chose its winner through a strict vote count, the Star-Tribune entries are only serving as nominations for a name the zoo will select.