CAMPAIGNS: Pulse creates huge interest for skate rink - Media Relations

Client: The Pulse Group PR Team: True Communications Campaign: Launch of the Marble Arch Ice Rink, London Timescale: November - January 2003 Budget: Undisclosed

London's newest ice rink was built at Marble Ice to challenge more established rinks in the capital. A campaign was needed to help ensure the new rink made a big impact.

It's the first time an event has happened at the Arch itself, but outdoor ice skating has a long tradition in London. Skaters first took to the Thames in the 1860s and now there are three outdoor rinks in central London.

Objectives

To gain maximum exposure in the national and regional media and to set it apart from the popular ice rink in the courtyard of the spectacular 18th century Somerset House. That rink has enjoyed wide coverage since it became an instant hit four years ago.

Strategy and Plan

The main challenge was to communicate the excitement of the rink, its easily accessible location and the novelty value of a leisure activity by Marble Arch.

There was a tight timeframe with the agency appointed on 1 November and the ice being safe for a photo-shoot on 15 November. It was open to the public two days later.

True Communications worked closely with press teams at Westminster City Council, Oxford Street Association and English Heritage.

The campaign began with a press preview through an exclusive photo-feature in the Evening Standard.

Broadcast coverage included BBC London News and London Tonight on both the day before launch and the day it opened.

The agency worked to ensure coverage ran nationwide and that visitors to the capital heard of it in news and travel sections in the nationals.

Many papers ran features on what to do in London over Christmas and the rink provided strong photo opportunities.

Competitions for free tickets ran across TV, radio and the internet while a funding link with Save the Children Fund, which donated 25p from every ticket sale (reaping a total of £15,000), was also highlighted.

Measurement and Evaluation

The launch was covered in nearly every national broadsheet and tabloid newspaper including The Times, The Independent, the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Express, The Sunday Times and the Sunday People during November and December.

Photoshoots took place on the ice with Liberty X, Pop Idol finalist Zoe Birkett and Girls Aloud the day before the final of Popstars The Rivals.

TV coverage ranged from the Christmas Eve edition of V Graham Norton to CNN and the European Pepsi Chart Show.

Results

Originally the rink was to open until 15 January 2003 but due to unprecedented interest it extended its run to 26 January 2003. Over Christmas tickets sold out and it is estimated that around 100,000 people will have visited the rink. The Marble Arch ice rink will open again next year.

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