Campaign: FH makes Boat Show's relocation a success - Exhibition PR

Campaign: London International Boat Show

Client: National Boat Shows

PR team: Fishburn Hedges

Timescale: May 2003-January 2004

Budget: Undisclosed

In January, after 49 years at the Earls Court and Olympia venues, the London International Boat Show relocated to the Excel centre in London's Docklands, introducing new features such as the Indoor Windsurfing Championships. Exhibitors and specialist media were initially doubtful about the change of venue, and a PR campaign was required to win over the sceptics.


To increase visitor numbers by 38 per cent to 200,000. To communicate that the show was moving to Excel. To plug Schroders as title sponsor.

Strategy and Plan

Early planning focused on two main tasks - winning over the sceptics and reaching a new and broader audience. Fishburn Hedges produced a media toolkit that included maps, artists' impressions of features, and guides to attractions in the local area.

A series of media days were held for specialist boating and water sport titles, and editors were invited to visit the new site as it developed.

Exhibitor profile slots were placed in specialist and trade titles, and letters from National Boat Shows went to media and exhibitors with reminders of the title sponsor.

The Boat Show also sponsored windsurfing categories at extreme sports festival White Air to showcase the Indoor Windsurfing Championships, which was used as a news hook for articles and competitions in men's titles.

One hundred and sixty-five competitions and ticket offers ran in local, national and online press to encourage first-time visitors, and lifestyle publications were used to target women and families. News stories were spread over the course of the show, and broadcast coverage was maximised by giving key messages and individual filming opportunities to news crews.

To maximise visibility of the sponsor, VNRs were issued daily and staff and spokespeople wore branded clothing. Broadcasters were encouraged to film in areas where branding was clearly visible in the backdrop.

Measurement and Evaluation

From a sample of 6,000 at the event, research revealed that 41 per cent of visitors heard about the show through reading an article in a local or national newspaper, 41 per cent through boating magazine articles, 15 per cent through a TV programme and seven per cent through radio mentions.

The show garnered 784 pieces of print coverage in total, 102 of which were in national newspapers and consumer magazines. The full show title was used in 62 of these articles, an increase of 288 per cent from 2003.

Consumer titles included FHM, Marie Claire, Slimming and Women's Health.

Media attendance doubled from 2003 with 3,165 journalists visiting the show, and coverage was achieved in influential industry titles, including Yachting World, Boating Business and Motor Boats Monthly.

Further pieces ran on Newsround, Sky News, Grandstand, BBC Breakfast, They Think It's All Over, BBC Radio 2, London Today and London Tonight, which covered the show on four days.


The show received 213,500 visitors, an increase of 68,000 - 48 per cent - on 2003. Schroders has also extended its title sponsorship contract for a further three years.

Motor Boats Monthly news editor Rob Peake says: 'Overall, the response was very positive, especially in light of the hugely increased visitor numbers.' He adds that a slightly doubtful industry had been pleasantly surprised by the new venue.

Yachting World editor Andrew Bray agrees: 'The campaign went very well.

The fact that visitor numbers were up more than 40 per cent speaks for itself.'

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