CAMPAIGNS: New Saatchi Gallery bares all at opening - Event PR

Client: The Saatchi Gallery PR Team: PagetBaker Campaign: Launch of the new Saatchi Gallery Timescale: January - April 2003 Budget: Undisclosed

The sight of several dozen nude people reclining on London's South Bank is bound to create media interest. However, 15 April's coverage of the fleshy 'happening' by artist Spencer Tunick marked the final stages of a sustained campaign by PagetBaker to launch the Saatchi Gallery.

Housed in 4,000sqm of London's former County Hall, the gallery includes pieces from iconic artists such as Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst and the Chapman Brothers.

Objectives

To convey the message that the gallery is for everyone, not just a select group of art lovers - essential as it does not offer free entry. To maintain international interest to ensure the gallery is on the tourist map.

Strategy and Plan

As much of the artwork had been seen before, the agency couldn't rely on controversy to generate stories. Instead, it used multiple angles based on the artists involved, the collection and the building itself.

The campaign also had to overcome a significant obstacle as owner Charles Saatchi never talks to the press.

Before the media coverage started, a paid feature appeared in the Evening Standard on the building, while a deal was struck with The Observer to act as media partner.

'The broadsheets normally set the agenda for arts coverage, but we invited The Sun and Daily Mirror to tour the gallery at the same time,' says PagetBaker founder Will Paget. As a result, the gallery received a full-page profile in the Daily Mirror two days before the launch.

Measurement and Evaluation

The campaign generated 682 press cuttings and more than 115 broadcast clips, including a supplement in The Observer.

On launch night, Tunick's event saw an item on ITV's News at Ten, and a page in the Evening Standard the next day. Celebrity magazines Heat and OK! covered the party.

Global coverage included The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time.

Results

The gallery's first weekend saw an attendance of 21,000, exceeding expectations.

PagetBaker has been retained as the gallery's PR agency. The notoriously tight-lipped Charles Saatchi also said the agency was 'key to the success of the gallery launch'.

'It worked well, as its tone was very similar to that of the gallery: slightly mischievous', sums up The Observer assistant editor Robert Yates.

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