Eggcellent effort leverages artists, public to raise funds

The Big Egg Hunt, a fundraising initiative conceived by the nonprofit conservation organization Elephant Family, hired HL Group to help promote its first US event in New York City.

The Big Egg Hunt, run by Elephant Family (New York)
HL Group (New York)
The Fabergé Big Egg Hunt
October 22, 2013-April 25, 2014

The Big Egg Hunt, a fundraising initiative conceived by the nonprofit conservation organization Elephant Family, hired HL Group to help promote its first US event from April 1-25 in New York City.

Influential creatives, including artists, fashion designers, and architects, created 269 egg-shaped sculptures that were installed around New York. An app, created by Saatchi & Saatchi New York, alerted participants when they were near an egg and allowed them to check in at the site, which entered them into a contest to win an egg-shaped Fabergé pendant.

"We expanded the idea of a public art exhibit by turning it into a real hunt with prizes. The app also made it digital," says Fiona McKinstrie, director of communications at The Big Egg Hunt. "New York was new to us, so we needed a firm to help us communicate effectively about this event, and ultimately raise funds."

On April 22, 36 sculptures were auctioned at Sotheby’s. The rest were auctioned online. Related merchandise was sold at Saks Fifth Avenue, pop-up shops, and on Money raised benefited Asia’s endangered elephants and New York’s Studio in a School, which teaches visual arts in underserved areas.


"We engaged influencers, artists, and high-level media contacts who would participate in the project in various ways," explains HL Group MD Caroline Curtis.

"Then we used these names to gain broad media interest and attract the general public to participate in the hunt. We also wanted to ensure we reached high net-worth participants who would purchase eggs at auction because that was the primary source of revenue."

Messaging reinforced the missions of Elephant Family and Studio in a School. It also highlighted the Fabergé prizes, sculptures, and merchandise.


Long-lead media members were briefed at an October 22 breakfast. Several egg sculptures created by well-known artists were unveiled at a January cocktail event that connected both nonprofits with influencers and media.

An exclusive with AP on March 17 officially announced the hunt. Local and national media attended a photo call on March 27 and a press conference on March 31. Elephant Family US CEO Ruth Powys appeared on Today with one of the egg sculptures and the pendants on April 1.

Throughout the hunt in New York, short-lead outlets were continually pitched. A host committee of local supporters and influencers held small, private networking events that helped attract sponsors and participants and also helped drive excitement for the Sotheby’s auction.  

All participating artists and sponsors – about 1,000 overall – received an artist’s toolkit, which helped maximize participation and kept everyone on message throughout. website, created by Fallon UK, provided all information about the campaign and sold merchandise. The effort was promoted on dedicated Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages.


The auction raised $1.6 million, which McKinstrie says exceeded expectations and the amount raised by a 2012 London event. The app received 5,000 downloads on April 1 and more than 30,000 downloads overall. On social platforms, there were 475,000 check-ins at egg sites.

More than 500 stories ran in outlets including NBC Nightly News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Elle, and Town & Country. The website received 383,122 page views from April 1 to mid-May and the time spent on site was about three minutes on average. The effort garnered 22,987 Instagram posts, 4,472 new Facebook likes, and 2,166 new Twitter followers. The hashtag, #TheBigEggHuntNY, was used about 23,000 times per day during the hunt.


The Big Egg Hunt will expand franchise opportunities for the event around the world. McKinstrie says plans are to create a "fresh and new" fundraiser for New York next year.

PRWeek's View
An interactive public art exhibition of this scope is challenging to pull off. This team masterfully handled all aspects of it. It was groundbreaking to build so much digital interactivity into an offline exhibition and engagement with all audiences was outstanding. Influencer participation was expertly handled. With so many partners and participants, messaging could have easily been diluted, but this team kept everyone focused. 

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