Campaign: Ministry of Fun reveals decline of grottos - Consumer

Campaign: Santa

Client: Ministry of Fun

PR team: In-house, Borkowski PR and Ciro Castaldo

Timescale: October-November 2004

Budget: £5,000

According to entertainment agency and Santa lookalike supplier Ministry of Fun, more department stores and shopping centres are axing their Christmas grottos each year and giving the space over to stock. The firm decided to try and halt the trend and run a PR campaign to highlight the decline of this traditional aspect of festive shopping.

Objectives

To increase the number of bookings for the firm through a national and local awareness campaign of Santa's plight. To promote Ministry of Fun staff as key spokespeople. To ultimately increase the number of grottos for Christmas 2005.

Strategy and Plan

Borkowski PR was hired for one week to devise a campaign and start a media debate about the UK's declining number of grottos. Freelance consultant Ciro Castaldo was hired for a similar period to create interest among the local media.

The story was given exclusively to the Daily Mirror during the last week of October before other media were invited for a photocall at Ministry of Fun's 'Santa School' in London on 1 November.

The target audience was parents with young children, shop managers and event organisers.

As well as the photocall, Ministry of Fun director James Lovell was made available for interview for both radio and press.

Measurement and Evaluation

The Daily Mirror ran the exclusive on 1 November about the decline in grottos under the headline 'Ex-mas Grottos'.

On the same day, Lovell was involved in more than 40 regional radio interviews as well as features on the BBC's Radio Five Live, BBC London and Classic Gold.

Since 1 November, the story has been picked up by papers including The Times, the Evening Standard, Metro and the Liverpool Echo, as well as magazines such as Chat. TV mentions have included GMTV and BBC South East Today. Foreign coverage included the New Zealand Herald.

According to in-house evaluation, coverage was 100 per cent positive.

Results

Since 1 November, bookings for Ministry of Fun's Santas have doubled on last year to 150. As PRWeek went to press, Lovell was still being called on to speak about Santa, with a BBC London interview being planned.

Reuters European retail correspondent Trevor Datson says: 'I don't think it added anything to the sum of human knowledge but people do want to read about this sort of thing.'

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