Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Earth Day Roller Coaster Game in Paris with Avatar and a Volcano

Mother Nature doesn't always get with program!

A crazy California girl, raised in the 70's in L.A. (enough said), caught in the Paris art world, I had been searching for a way to bring an Earth Day event to Paris for 2 years. When I found the CleanArt Planet Project in a Paris art gallery in the spring of 2009, I knew that I had found my partners for the adventure: Two Corsicans, Gilles and Charlie ( a designer and a film director) and Thierry, a Parisian photographer in love with the Atlantic coast- Who could ask for a better team?

I had worked with the Westin Hotel Paris in 2007 for the exhibition and
book launch for Sebastian Copeland's "Antarctica- The Global Warning" and it was a great success. Great cocktail, great speeches, music by Didier Lockwood, great results in the international press...

Now a fantastic opportunity was at hand: Earth Day's 40 anniversary in 2010. So, I returned to the Westin armed with an Earth Day celebration project. ..The game was on...

My first setback: The wonderful, motivated, and always enthusiastic Starwood group (Westin) PR girl that I had worked with in 2007 loved my ED40 project proposal, promised to push it, and then, left for another job. My proposal was lost in the cracks in the streets of Paris (and if you know Paris, you know the kind of cracks I'm talking about!)

Although the director of the hotel was keen on the project, my main contact would still be the PR department. Ok, so new players, new rules - I had to start the process all over again. A "rain delay" that lasted almost 9 months.  A search for another possible venue, and then the Westin agreed to host the cocktail event, and the exhibition for 3 weeks, but we had to provide the extras with supplimentary sponsorship.

Convincing big French corporations to cough up even a little sponsorship money late in the game and in this economy was a HUGE challenge! The Earth Day Network appreciates that fact that you want to organize an event in their name, but not enough to help you find sponsors. Not to mention all the other organizational hurdles and roadblocks along the way... I speak French and English, but even that was not enough to avoid the various communication breakdowns.

So the ED40 Paris event was thrown to the good graces of the « God of Extreme Last Minute Efforts. »

After dispensing buckets of tireless enthusiasm and energy, our Earth Day 40 celebration in Paris was planned to the last detail, thanks to the unbelievable hustle and bustle of everyone involved. It truly was a great team effort. The CleanArt Guys were fantastic, and sponsors came through at the (very) last minute: Groupe Dassault, Tattinger Champagne, PSAV (who supplied the tech support and plasma screens), print shops, and others.

The event coordinator from the Westin was very professional, my friends at UNESCO Paris were helpful, Tattinger and the printer delivered on time. The director of the hotel was kind enough to thank me in her speech. The French Director of WWF, a rep from the Nicolas Hulot Foundation, CleanArt and UNESCO Paris also came and gave speeches. Forced to fight against my debilitating fear of speaking in public, red in the face and trembling, at the request of CleanArt, even I delivered a small speech.

During the cocktail the art work looked incredibly eclectic displayed in the Napoleon - era Salon Imperial at the Westin. Among painted baroque ceilings, columns and gold, we exhibited photos and collages of colorful beach debris, projected a 3D film and had « sonographics » emitting from recycled objects. Plenty of corporate VIP's showed up and the cocktail went well, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

However once again, the project fell somewhat, through the cracks: Because of all the delays, and despite everyone's efforts, including my own, we were too late for anything but internet press. Contrary to the « Antarctica » project, the sponsors didn't communicate about the event. Even The Earth Day Network's external international communication group, working pro bono from Belgium (of course!), was unable to provide us with press articles.

And then, two days after the cocktail, the super wonderful news, a communication and PR dream and, our saving grace in the last quarter of the game:

The producer of Avatar and my fellow Los Angeleno, Jon Landau was coming to Paris with Fox Home Entertainment to promote the launch of the film Avatar on DVD and Blu-ray for Earth Day 40! Not only to Paris, but because I had brought Earth Day 40 to the Westin, the hotel had been presented with the opportunity to host the press junket! The CleanArt Planet guys, the art work and me, in front of 200 journalists together with Jon Landau!!! WOW!

Ran out to the Champs Elysées with the Thierry and Charlie from CleanArt
to see the film and was overwhelmed to tears. We were going to meet the man who produced this incredible film that expressed so much about how I felt about man-kind and his relationship to nature.

The junket was scheluded for the following tuesday. Major hustle involved to prepare. Late nights, phone calls, ( including a 4 way conference call from the  Earth Day Network headquarters in Washington D.C.) e-mails, negotiations, a new press release for the occasion revised 3 times....

The day before the press junket, it was cancelled. A volcano in Iceland had grounded everyone, including Jon Landau. So no junket, no journalists. No press opps.

Plenty of guts, but no glory.

I have tried to send a letter to Jon Landau, don't know if he got it or read it.

They say that you can't fool Mother Nature, but what happens when you are trying to help her and she still plays you for a fool?

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