Believe It or Not, Ripley’s Latest Launch a Hit
Of Course It’s OK to Stare
This strange and unusual content is a real commodity for the book’s publicity staff. Tim O’Brien, vice president of publishing and communications, serves as spokesperson for “The Remarkable … Revealed” and is currently engaged in a lengthy publicity tour targeting much of North America’s print and electronic media. He frequently accompanies performers (featured in the book) on television shows and radio programs.
One of Ripley’s branding slogans this year is “of course it’s OK to stare,” which seems a perfect match for some of the antics contained in the book, and subsequently performed in TV and radio studios throughout the country. The publicity campaign kicked off Aug. 20 with an appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman”—highlighted by a “car hurdler” named Jeff Clay leaping over three cars parked on a Manhattan street. It’s stunts like these that enable O’Brien and his colleagues to book a dozen or so TV shows and nearly 100 radio interviews per campaign. “Our venerable company’s brand is a huge asset in all of our marketing, especially the books,” O’Brien says. And the book’s subjects are so compelling that “five-minute planned interviews [frequently] turn into 20 minutes because people are so fascinated by what we do and, of course, by Ripley himself, who was a true eccentric.”
Deska and O’Brien both point to an increased effort to pitch local and regional stories as a part of this year’s campaign. “We’re focusing a little more on the regional and local markets, because people like the fact that a BION [Believe It or Not!] person is local,” Deska says. The strategy has reaped an immediate return in a number of markets; for example, North Dakota’s The Bismarck Tribune ran a feature story on Aug. 19 highlighting North Dakota residents who have been featured in the “Believe It or Not!” series.