It hired Clarion Communications to drive up customer numbers and retail sales, and to create a live event that would set it apart from other centres.
Christmas lights switch-on events generally deliver poor return on investment –celebrity appearance fees are rising and containing large, excitable crowds can be a challenge. Instead of a launch event, Clarion decided to stage a stunt to produce a strong editorial image that would be representative of Lakeside's family-friendly appeal, but with enough visual impact to interest the media.
This was a very clever and innovative idea, delivered on a small budget. Great
Jeremy King Editor, Event and
Opting to save money over securing a big-name celebrity, the team chose ex-Big Brother contestant Chantelle Houghton to become Lakeside's 'Living Christmas Fairy'.
After positioning a 50ft artificial Christmas tree outside one of the centre's main entrances, Houghton – sporting a princess-style pink prom dress – was suspended from a crane and lowered on to the top of the tree to pose for the campaign image.
A photographer used a second 60ft hydraulic platform to capture the centre's branding and ensure Lakeside's iconic sign could not be edited out of the coverage.
Clarion decided not to publicise the shoot to reduce the risk of an image being leaked through social media, which would have lessened the impact of the final shot.
The image generated 48 pieces of coverage including stories in The Times, The Sun and the Daily Mail. Consumer magazines also responded encouragingly, with a double-page spread in Heat and full pages in OK, Star and Now magazines. All clippings included the Lakeside branding and the stunt also generated broadcast coverage, with mentions and name-checks on ITV1's Daybreak and Heart FM.
The campaign also boosted footfall and sales for Lakeside retailers. Total November footfall was 2.5 per cent higher than in October and average spend was up 33 per cent on 2009.
The Awards 2011 book will be available in this week's issue of PRWeek