1.0 The Great North Snowdogs
*ADD THAT THEY WON AWARD
In 2016 the North East became home to a series of 61 individually designed Snowdog sculptures painted by artists. The Great North Snowdog campaign was launched in August of 2016 by Gardiner Richardson and Nexus for Tyne and Wear. The campaign Great North Snowdogs was a large scale public art event, inspired by the film The Snowman and The Snowdog, in aid of St Oswald's Hospice.
As presenting partner of Great North Snowdogs Trail, Nexus, the owner of the Tyne and Wear Metro worked in collaboration with Gardiner Richardson to help devise and execute an integrated campaign. The campaign was launched and promoted and positioned the Metro as the perfect way to explore the trail.
1) Increase Metro revenue and patronage
2) Enhance customer approval and brand reputation
3) Build stronger relationships with stakeholders
4) Increase staff engagement
2.0 Research and Planning
During Gardiner Richardson's research, they found that “People were at the heart of Metro's business strategy” and through the campaign they would be able to help cement the Metro's status as a North East icon across the whole region. Gardiner Richardson also researched art trails that had previously taken place elsewhere, spoke to sponsors, media and civic bodies to hone their strategy, planned all activities with reference to the four key objectives.
Publics and Stakeholders identified:
• The public
• St Oswald's Hospice
• Trail Sponsors
• Metro's North East Partners
• Metro Staff
• Regional Media
2.1 Anne Gregory 12 Stages of planning
In relation to Anne Gregory's 12 stages of planning (figure 1 positioned to the right), Gardiner Richardson have effectively applied this method in the order to outline the beginnings of their campaign as “without getting to the core issues there will not be a credible or effective programme, or one that supports the organisational objectives” (Anne Gregory, 2014:55). They have effectively outlined the aims and objectives of the campaign and completed research into the key publics and stakeholders for the duration of the campaign. However, the objectives outlined are not “SMART” objectives as they are not “specific, measurable statements that break down the aims that must be achieved if success is to be realised” (Anne Gregory, 2014:104). This also brings challenges towards the end of the campaign in regard to evaluation as how will Gardiner and Richardson be able to evaluate how these objectives were met through the tactics that they implement?
3.0 Campaign Issues
As outlined in the Objectives, (section 1.1) an issue that Gardiner Richardson identified was the lack of staff engagement from Nexus staff therefore this is a key issue to be tackled by Gardiner Richardson and Nexus together as partners throughout the campaign. Also, in relation to Nexus there is the issue of a need to create stronger relationships between stakeholders for example, St Oswald's Hospice who will be key throughout the campaign as a main stakeholder.
2.0 Campaign Messages
3.0 Strategy and Tactics
1) Revenue and Patronage
As Presenting Partner, Gardiner Richardson put the Metro at the heart of all the Great North Snowdogs official literature. They were able to capitalise on their strong relationship with the local daily Chronicle newspaper to help set up an online blog having frequent updates. Coverage was also sustained though out the campaign across traditional, digital and social media and marketing which all positioned the Metro as the best way to enjoy the Snowdogs.
Advertising was also used to reinforce this message using the Primary times wrap aimed at families, all ticket machines and signage at stations. Web content, digital banners, flyers and kids' activity packs at TravelShops and on-street.
Social media also became a useful tactic, linking with the wider social media conversations on Snowdogs exposed new audiences to Metro. Gardiner and Richardson were also able to utilise Metro's existing social channels to communicate with Metro customers.
In order to engage more, Gardiner Richardson also created user generated content by asking the public for help to replace the names of 60 metro stations with doggy puns like Paw Lane Ends (Four Lane Ends). A live interactive map replaced names as suggestions were submitted via Twitter which resulted in media coverage and high engagement. #GreatNorthSnowdogs became the highest trending item in the North East the day it aired.
By using a GoPro and a specifically adapted harness, Gardiner Richardson filmed a time-lapsed ‘dog's eye view of a day out on the Metro which generated over 7,000 YouTube views.
Gardiner Richardson also used innovation to in order to directly affect some of their key objectives.
i. Customer approval and reputation
Interventions on stations and social media updates to engage passengers as well as widespread promotion of Metro's involvement to boost Metro's positive reputation regionally.
Metro also sponsored 11 smaller ‘community dogs' for schools close to metro lines to help educate and strengthen rail safety work in classrooms.
ii. Stakeholders Relations
• 5 major business networking events to maximise face-to-face opportunities
• Highlight the economic impact of Snowdogs would deliver by increasing footfall, as well build support for long-term investment plans in Metro
• These events grew sponsors from 50 to all 61 sculptures.
iii. Staff Engagement
Nexus nominated St Oswald's as their official charity, encouraging staff to raise money. Staff competition to design a community dog attracted 61 entries with the winning design realised by an artist.
3.1 Implementation of tactics and Timeline
Gardiner and Richardson established September to December as the best time to run media campaigns for Metro, devising a campaign to help create vibrant and engaging content to encourage people from across the North East to become ‘tourists in their own home town' and explore the Snowdogs trail by Metro. For Metro customers, Snowdogs provided a feel-good narrative during autumn, when rail performance is usually at its lowest due to seasonal factors affecting the infrastructure of the system.
• January – June 2016: Initial planning including early media liaison, campaign collateral and content planning. Stakeholder and sponsor liaison
• August – November 2016: Above the line campaign planning and booking individual digital, OOH and on system/ in station
• September 2016: Trail launch including Snowdogs tickets and wristbands Social media “Thunderbark” to rename all stations with dog puns. 15 stations physically renamed using bespoke vinyl's, bespoke Metro map, ticket machine vinyl's and Snowdogs Metro activity booklets
• September – November 2016 – 10 week Snowdogs trail. Ongoing PR, social and marketing activity
• December 2016 – Evaluation and reporting.
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