Frieze puts artworks at the heart of fair promo

Frieze Art Fair, the annual expo in London’s Regent’s Park that attracts works from 150 galleries around the world, has achieved significant press coverage since it launched in 2003 (PRWeek, 14 Jan 2005).

For the October 2005 its organisers were keen to maintain media interest, but were conscious that this could be more challenging than when the concept was new.

In April it hired Idea Generation, which specialises in promoting
cultural events, to bring a new perspective to promotion of the international contemporary art fair.

To sell tickets in advance of the event in order to avoid queues – a problem in previous years. To achieve media mentions for main sponsor Deutsche Bank, and position the fair as a major cultural event.

Strategy and Plan
Although the fair had attracted a celebrity following in the past, Idea Generation persuaded the organisers that the story of the fair itself was strong enough to merit press coverage. The focus of the campaign was thus the art, and the PR team shunned stunts or celebrity endorsement that risked trivialising the occasion.

The agency targeted a wide range of national, international, trade, consumer and broadcast media with invites to, and press releases about, the fair. International publications were also approached with tailored information about local artists exhibiting.

To ensure sponsor Deutsche Bank was mentioned, Idea Generation organised a press briefing in the company's London headquarters Bank representatives explained their involvement with the fair and took journalists on a tour of the company's art collection.

During the fair the agency sent out a daily email alert, flagging up events such as talks and film screenings, to the media. Initially newspaper supplement editors did not pick up the story because they felt there was no single, clear angle. As a result, the agency came up with fresh hooks – such as making the two directors behind the fair available for interview and producing a 'new artists for 2005' list.

Measurement and Evaluation
The fair was the subject of more than 30 features in UK broadsheets. Supplements such as ES Magazine, The Sunday Times' Style and Times' Knowledge covered the exhibition, while Vogue ran a 16-page feature around David Bailey's photos of the fair and artists.

Broadcast interest came from BBC Radio 2 and Channel 4 News. As in 2004, the fair was covered by press in the US and Europe .

Overall, the level of coverage achieved was comparable with last year.

There was a 20 per cent increase in ticket sales on 2004, 64 per cent of which were sold in advance, and Deutsche Bank was mentioned more than 30 times in coverage. Commentators such as Janet Street Porter and David Yelland wrote about the cultural importance of the event.

Freelance Alice Fisher, who wrote about the fair for Virgin Atlantic's Carlos magazine, says: 'Frieze is something a certain set of wealthy, well-travelled people need to know about. It has the right mix of socialising, business and glamour. Carlos is a design-led publication, so the chance to feature work by fantastic artists was too good to miss.'

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