Central Pacific Bank (CPB) wanted to officially retire its mascot, Alex (“the Loyalty Officer”), a Shetland sheepdog used in advertisements and events for CPB since 2002. When the community began questioning, “Where’s Alex?” CPB knew Alex’s retirement from banking mascot and into a therapy dog wouldn’t happen silently among his large base of fiercely loyal fans.
Hastings & Pleadwell’s (H&P) goal was to write the final chapter on Alex the Loyalty Officer’s life, answer the community’s questions on Alex’s whereabouts, demonstrate CPB’s corporate citizenship and community goodwill, and find a fitting purpose for the remaining Alex plush toys.
In April 2009, CPB announced Alex’s “official retirement” and its plan to donate 2,800 Alex plush toys (valued at $30,000) to Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women and Children programs for disabled youth. The plush toys were retrofitted with technologies that would be used in pediatric rehabilitation and save the hospital from purchasing ready-made therapy toys.
To prepare for Alex’s retirement and CPB’s donation to the community, H&P developed media strategies that focused on their community outreach philosophy on education, compiled a media list that focused on health, education, and technology, and coordinated talking points/messaging for CPB executives. H&P executed event media coordination plans, newsworthy human-interest stories surrounding the advanced technology, press releases, and photos. The Alex plush toys were hand delivered to local print and broadcast stations to spread the word of his retirement.
Alex’s public retirement gave a sense of closure to the community, customers, and employees. CPB’s donation of Alex plush toys benefited the community and put state-of-the-art speech and physical therapy technologies within reach of many Hawaii children that need this type of treatment.
Media coverage of Alex’s retirement highlighted the collaboration between CPB and Kapi‘olani Medical Center. The very extensive and positive coverage followed several quarters of poor earnings and negative press – a critical time for CPB. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin said it was a “marketing icon retiring” and The Honolulu Advertiser’s Island Tails blog noted that Alex was one of Hawaii’s only mascots.