145 Years, 2 Pandemics, 1 Story: Celebrating Oswald’s Legacy

Apr 9, 2021

Oswald’s isn’t your typical pharmacy. A Naperville landmark, the business is the oldest continually owned family pharmacy in Illinois. Deeply rooted in the culture of the surrounding community, Oswald’s has a history that spans 145 years, six generations—and now, two pandemics.

As our creative team rebranded the pharmacy—with a fresh new logo, visual identity and value proposition—Oswald’s turned to our PR team with a mission: Tell the story of our business, our legacy and our six-generation history in a way that captures the attention of the local community…

…or, if possible, the entire nation.

No pressure, right?

12.5 million people reached

Pandemic PR

Our task was pretty straightforward: We needed to generate brand awareness in the press for Oswald’s 145th anniversary. Along the way, we also needed to explain the transition of ownership from fifth-generation owner Bill Anderson to his son, Alex. Not bad! It had all the ingredients of a great story, and our PR team knew just how to approach it.

What wasn’t straightforward was pulling this off during a pandemic. In the world of COVID-19, when it’s not even safe for people to get together, how do you celebrate a birthday as momentous as 145 years?

Well-versed in overcoming challenges—that’s basically our job description—the MACLYN PR team did what we do best: We got creative. First, we partnered with local history museum Naper Settlement. The museum’s curatorial team worked with the Andersons (the family that owns Oswald’s) to create a pop-up exhibit celebrating the Oswald’s story.

oswald's exhibit

The result was a genuine time capsule. Positioned at the front of the store, the exhibit featured dozens of artifacts, including a Hamilton Beach Drink Master 4-fold Aerator, used to make milkshakes at the Oswald’s soda fountain from the 1930s through the 1950s. Through written history and real artifacts, visitors of the exhibit were transported back in time, all the way to 1875, when W.W. Wickel opened the pharmacy. As they progressed through the decades, visitors learned how Oswald’s and the surrounding community navigated a changing world, the pharmacy supporting the community and vice versa, all the way up to the present day.

The exhibit told a compelling tale—at a time when we were all craving a dose of nostalgia and a reminder of the stories that bring us together.

Not surprisingly, it was a hit with media and customers alike.

publicity value

More than a Story

As we worked with Oswald’s to celebrate their 145th birthday, the business reached out to help the surrounding community that had always supported them. First, they registered as a COVID-19 testing location; later, they became a vaccine distributor.

In addition to making a genuine impact on the community, Oswald’s COVID-19 response—and the fact that they had survived not one but two global pandemics—was the perfect PR hook to announce the transition of ownership. Now, they weren’t just explaining how they continually adapt to a changing world. They were showing it, in real time.

With that, what could have been a mildly interesting press release about a leadership change evolved into a compelling and topical human-interest story. This, combined with the company’s recent rebranding and their pop-up museum (both orchestrated by MACLYN), created the perfect conditions for a huge media play.

57 media placements

A National Hit!!

With the MACLYN PR team taking point, the campaign generated an incredible 57 total media placements!

The story reached nearly everyone in the Chicago area, with coverage from key stations ABC, CBS, NBC and WGN. But it didn’t stop there. Audiences in nine states—in markets like Philadelphia, Raleigh, Fresno, Santa Barbara, Houston and Colorado Springs, to name a few—learned the story of this family-owned pharmacy in Naperville, Illinois.

All in all, the campaign reached more than 12.5 million people, generating $696,758 in publicity value.

Not bad for a small business.

About Our Services

MACLYN’s PR team led every step of the Oswald’s campaign, cranking out strategies, coordinating with media contacts, prepping spokespeople and monitoring coverage. Want to learn more about our stellar PR services? Start here!

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