UNDER NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES, THE SIGHT OF 50 PEOPLE running around in bright orange shirts might cause alarm in some neighborhoods. But on a bright Sunday morning in April, it instead inspired a two-way awareness between residents and businesses of San Diego's revitalized North Park and prospective and recent buyers of La Boheme, a new, 224-unit condominium project by D.R. Horton. “The neighborhood took notice, and the participants learned about the neighborhood,” says Suzie Barris, media relations coordinator for the builder's San Diego division.

Working with several local businesses and an expert in urban scavenger hunt races, Barris created passports listing 12 items that needed to be found, in order, within an hour's time. Teams were granted extra time for answering prerace trivia questions and provided clue sheets and digital cameras to help find and record, respectively, the landmarks listed on their passports. So that every team wouldn't follow the same route, Barris created three passport versions with the items listed in a different order. Only one team (recent buyers) completed the list in the allowed time, but all participants received a prize. “Everyone said they'd do it again,” says Barris, who may stage a similar event for future D.R. Horton projects or in nearby neighborhoods.

RACE RATS: Clad in bright orange shirts, contestants of La Boheme's Metro Madness scavenger  hunt/race decipher clues to discover and photograph themselves with neighborhood  landmarks, gaining a better sense of what's around the new condo  project.
RACE RATS: Clad in bright orange shirts, contestants of La Boheme's Metro Madness scavenger hunt/race decipher clues to discover and photograph themselves with neighborhood landmarks, gaining a better sense of what's around the new condo project.

Enticed by radio ads and e-mail blasts before the event, participants and neighbors were also attracted to a popular morning radio team remote broadcast (chosen from a survey of the project's target market) and were treated to an “after party” at which La Boheme's sales and mortgage teams pitched the project and bolstered the prospect list. La Boheme broke ground in January 2005 and is scheduled for completion this August. At the time of the Metro Madness event, half of the project's one- and two-bedroom units had been sold.

CAMPAIGN DETAILS Program: Metro Madness scavenger hunt/race; Cost: $7,500; Project: La Boheme, San Diego; Developer/Builder: D.R. Horton (San Diego division), Carlsbad, Calif.; Consultant: Urban Challenge, Mesa, Ariz.; Advertising agency: Weston Mason, Los Angeles; Public relations agency: Binger Communications, San Diego

Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Diego, CA, Los Angeles, CA.