CAMPAIGNS: Cow parade captures the imagination - Event Promotion

Client: CowParade Holdings
PR Team: Edelman PR London
Campaign: CowParade London
Timescale: December 2001 - 31 October 2002
Budget: £100,000

This summer, residents, workers and tourists were treated to a herd of 170 individually decorated fibreglass cows, sited around central London.

Originally the brainchild of a Swiss window dresser, CowParade is a public art event, which since 1998 has been on display in Zurich, Chicago, New York, Kansas City, Houston and Sydney.

Funded by corporate sponsorships, the CowParade invites local artists to decorate cow sculptures for display in strategic public settings. Afterwards, these exhibits are auctioned for charity.

For the London show, CowParade decided to split the proceeds raised between the charities ChildLine and the Royal Agricultural Ben-evolent Institution (RABI).


To educate and build interest in the UK's largest ever public art showcase, to help secure sponsorship for each individual cow and to build the event profile to get the highest possible bids at auction.

Strategy and Plan

Six months in advance of the show, Edelman PR London began targeting the trade media to help build awareness among potential sponsors.

This was boosted by one-off photo opportunities, including a visit by CowParade president Jerry Elbaum and former sports minister Tony Banks to a local school, and a 'The cows are coming' event at the Royal Albert Hall.

To launch CowParade London to both the consumer and news media, in April the PR team held an informal drinks party at Soho House, where journalists viewed pictures of different cows, past and present.

On 17 June, the show was officially launched with a photocall in Trafalgar Square, featuring 25 of the cows supposedly marching on London.

The cows were then sited in locations varying from tube stations and the windows of Liberty in Regent Street, to College Green outside the Palace of Westminster. Each individual cow needed planning permission and this was organised by event management firm Zebra.

Measurement and Evaluation

The press launch was attended by media ranging from specialist titles, such as Art Quarterly and Conde Nast Traveller, to Elle, Marie-Claire, Red and The Sunday Times. Broadcasters present included Channel 5's Open House and BBC's Blue Peter.

The official launch attracted The Times, The Guardian, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Express, The Evening Standard and The International Herald Tribune.

The event was featured on BBC London News over several days.


The cows received a mixed response, but in general public opinion was positive. One hundred and fifty cows gained corporate sponsorship, from firms including PricewaterhouseCoopers, Innocent Dri-nks and British Midland.

On 10 October, 60 of the cows were auctioned, raising £358,000, while an online auction is still ongoing and a further auction for RABI will be held on 24 November.

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