Campaigns: Consumer - Museum creates wedding bliss

Campaign: Elite Bride Show
Client: Natural History Museum
PR team: Davies Tanner
Timescale: February-April 2010
Budget: £3,500

The Natural History Museum is already a well-established venue for large-scale evening events in London. But it wanted to promote its new range of wedding packages to the wedding market.

Objectives

- To generate new wedding business

- To highlight venue hire opportunities at the museum, in particular Central Hall, the space with the largest capacity

- To demonstrate the museum's ability to stage dynamic and creative weddings.

Strategy and plan

Davies Tanner decided to target the Asian wedding market because it is potentially more lucrative for the client than traditional English weddings. This was backed by figures in Asiana Wedding magazine that said the average spend on an Asian wedding is £45,000 in comparison with £17,000 for a traditional English wedding.

The agency decided the best way to demonstrate the museum's offer was to show the venue set up for an Asian wedding, focusing on how Central Hall could add to the drama of the event. It created a wedding showcase at the museum - the Elite Bride Show - and developed the campaign around the event.

To reach the target audience, Davies Tanner set up a partnership with Asiana Wedding magazine and Asian caterers Madhu's. The magazine partnership generated coverage and helped the agency gain access to top-level wedding suppliers.

The event incorporated a supplier exhibition with 35 stands each demonstrating their unique wedding offerings, a traditional sit-down dinner for all guests, a catwalk show including trends for brides and grooms for dress and accessories, and a chance for couples to seek advice and do business on the night.

The Elite Bride Show was positioned as the must-attend event for couples. It was an invitation-only event, with the venue, event partners and participating suppliers each contributing to the guest list. Additional tickets could also be purchased for £300 per couple.

Measurement and evaluation

The event generated extensive coverage in target wedding media including a 14-page feature in Asiana magazine, three pages in Asiana Wedding and coverage in other mainstream wedding media, online and in Asian fashion/wedding blogs. Highlights included coverage on Colours TV. Follow-up coverage focused on the venue's ability to create stand-out Asian weddings.

The event attracted sponsors HSBC and Chivas whisky. The museum is planning to run the event annually.

Results

Since the Elite Bride Show, the museum has seen a 57 per cent increase in Asian wedding bookings. A total of £125,000 worth of new business was confirmed at the event, with post-event new business totalling £180,000. Most of the 35 exhibitors took 20-40 enquiries each on the night. Over 350 guests attended, including 100 newly engaged couples. The guest list ensured visitors were actively looking for venues or suppliers; no guests had booked every part of their wedding prior to attending the show.

SECOND OPINION

Laura Wood, Co-founder, Golden Goose PR

This is a well thought out and well executed campaign that fulfils shortto medium-term business objectives.

It's a stroke of inspired genius to create an event and a news campaign around the theme of Asian weddings, knowing that this is where so much of the wedding industry money lies.

Going the whole hog in using a tried and tested large-scale market technique - creating a wedding show with an influential media partner - was a very bold move that worked well.

It involved many different elements of the wedding industry to create a buzz around the venue and get the industry talking, albeit within a specific market; although there would be some spill into other wedding audiences.

The capital risk of creating something like this would go way beyond the budget that is quoted here, so I would question whether you can put this all down to PR, but it was a bold sell to the client and one that the agency has pulled off. Plus it has secured ongoing work as its success has meant that this can now be an annual event.

There's a lot that can be done in years two and three. Perhaps a bigger campaign through social media.

The decision needs to be made whether they want to continue targeting the Asian market or broaden out to a wider market. Does the venue want to be known in the longer term as the venue for Asian weddings or for weddings per se?

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