Last year, we were asked to raise awareness of the first ever Love Weston Winter Wonderland, a festive attraction financed by Weston-super-Mare’s Business Improvement District (BID) team and North Somerset Council. This would be achieved by delivering a fully-integrated campaign encompassing elements of marketing, advertising and PR.
The event, featuring the annual Christmas lights switch-on as its key attraction, would be open to the public for 45 days between November 2012 and January 2013. The work that we carried out to promote this event has now been shortlisted in the ‘Integrated Campaign’ category of the 2013 CIPR South West PRide Awards.
- Attract visitors to the event and encourage repeat visits
- Raise perceptions of Weston-super-Mare (WsM) as a destination point for Christmas shopping
- Gain positive press coverage for the event across a range of target media.
With a fixed, limited budget with which to work, we needed to find the most cost-effective ways of reaching families, primarily targeting a female demographic aged between 25-40 living locally, as the key decision makers for attending such an event with their children. Our strategy focused on developing a strong brand identity and creating a standalone website at the outset, and using social media channels to engage directly with potential visitors as the primary communication channel. This would be supported by traditional marketing, PR and advertising tactics.
Following initial discussions, a marketing plan and work schedule was developed and approved by both clients. The following tactics were then undertaken:
Our designer developed a range of logos and design concepts for consideration, designed to work as an extension of the existing ‘Love Weston’ logo but with a contemporary – and festive – slant. This was designed to also be used on uniforms and signage, and two variations of the original logo concepts were approved for use.
Online / social media activity
We built a dedicated website for the event, providing information about the attractions on offer, directions and the work of the BID amongst other things. We updated the website regularly throughout the event’s duration and used it to host latest news.
We also set up a Facebook page after identifying Facebook as the most suitable social media channel for effective B2C communication. The new website and supporting Facebook page were launched in October 2012, creating a buzz about the event weeks before it opened.
Throughout the campaign period, we received questions from local people and visitors (including questions regarding facilities for children and disabled people, and event costs) and used Facebook to publicly address these questions and engage with potential visitors and supporters, as well as to offer discount vouchers to encourage repeat visits, and to promote special associated events such as Titan the Robot’s appearance in the Sovereign Shopping Centre. Twitter was also used extensively to promote the Wonderland to local publications, community groups and journalists – both via our own account and via the Weston BID’s account.
Focusing on key titles in WsM and Bristol, including print, radio and online, five news releases were researched and drafted with input, photography and sign-offs from key parties. The key draw was identified at the outset as the annual Christmas lights switch-on. We led on the PR for this, making the arrangements for locally-based celebrities Richard Cadell and Sooty from CITV’s The Sooty Show to switch on the lights free of charge in return for local publicity. The pair’s involvement attracted hundreds of local people and secured positive coverage across a range of target media, including a prime-time interview on BBC Radio Bristol prior to the event.
We designed a poster and leaflet for local distribution by the Town Centre team on poster sites around the town, to raise awareness among businesses and visitors. In addition, we designed a visual graphic which was displayed on the Sovereign Shopping Centre’s plasma screens, promoting the free parking on offer as part of late night shopping each Thursday (a key element to attracting shoppers to the town).
- Liaised with the Town Centre Management team regarding various radio advertising options available with both Heart and Radio Nova, and reviewed advertising proposals from both.
- Liaised with the Weston Mercury regarding advertising opportunities and negotiated on rates.
- Commissioned professional photography to capture images for promotional use.
- Identifiable brand identity was used across both a range of marketing collateral and for staff uniforms.
- A total of 4,342 unique website visits made to the site (as of 14/1/13).
- The Facebook page had 377 fans as of the Wonderland’s conclusion on 6/1/13. 60.3% of these were females aged between 25-44 living in either Weston-super-Mare or Bristol (according to Facebook page insights).
- Seventeen known pieces of press coverage were achieved, with regular promotion from Radio Nova, Guide2Weston and Mum’s Diary throughout the campaign period. Positive coverage was achieved across all target media, and the event made the front page of both the Weston & Somerset Mercury and the Weston Echo.
- Positive feedback received back from both the client and visitors to the event about the quality and professionalism of the marketing and PR activity undertaken.
- Hundreds of local people attended the lights switch-on event in the town centre.
- Following the success of 2012’s event, the Wonderland is set to return for a second year this Christmas, utilising the same branding and marketing materials. Comments received via social media, both positive and negative, were compiled at the conclusion of our activity and will be used to inform 2013’s event planning and to improve and build on the event for future years.
All of the above activities were achieved within a set agreed at the outset with North Somerset Council and the Weston BID team. This fee included initial inception meetings, our attendance at the Christmas lights switch-on, and an evaluation report at the conclusion of our work.
“Plum provided us with an excellent service tailored to the specific needs of our event. They succeeded in driving increased footfall to the event through a well-designed website and through the social network sites with regular clear and precise updates. They clearly displayed the skills and knowledge that we required – we certainly wouldn’t hesitate to use Plum again the future”.
– Darren Fairchild, Seafront & Events Service Manager, North Somerset Council.