CAMPAIGN: Light reflection on the attractions of York

The historic city of York attracts four million visitors and over £300 million of tourist-related revenue a year, but many of these are repeat visits...

Seeing York in a different light: a series of light installations and digital art
Seeing York in a different light: a series of light installations and digital art

Campaign: Cultural York
Client: York Tourism Bureau
PR team: Brahm PR
Timescale: November 2006 – March 2007
Budget: £15,000

So York Tourism Bureau felt there was potential to boost these figures by attracting new visitors – particularly younger, affluent couples and individuals.

To raise awareness of York’s diverse and varied cultural offering. To drive traffic to cultural events and encourage people to have a short cultural break in the city. To appeal to visitors who may not have considered visiting York before.

For some time York has hosted a series of light installations and digital art known collectively as ‘Illuminating York’. Brahm decided to present this juxtaposition of medieval heritage and the digital age as the key media hook.

The agency developed a campaign theme of ‘See York in a Different Light’ to highlight the Illuminating York ­programme.

A teaser mailer, featuring a branded kaleidoscope with images of York Minster, was issued to all cultural and arts correspondents on the nationals. This was followed up with a press pack continuing the kaleidoscope theme.

To reiterate York’s unique approach to culture, Brahm developed a creative initiative known as ‘Culture Cabs’. Timed to coincide with local ­poet WH Auden’s 100th birthday, ­Dionysis Bekatorus, a local taxi driver who had recently won an accolade as ‘York ­Ambassador of the Year’, fronted the campaign.

York Theatre Royal’s David Leonard taught Bekatorus to recite Auden’s Night Mail to entertain his fares. Journalists from the Daily Telegraph and ITV Yorkshire took a ride in Dionysis’s ‘culture cab’.

A smaller laminated version of the press pack was distributed to over 600 cabbies in the city to help promote the various cultural events on offer.

The campaign generated 57 pieces of coverage, over twice the target, including seven pieces of national print coverage and14 broadcast pieces.

The Times featured an exclusive interview with international digital light artist Paul Kaiser and GNER Livewire magazine featured a front cover and double-page feature on cultural York.

‘Recovered Light’, a digital light installation on the scaffolding of the York Minster, was featured in a full page of editorial in The Times and a large article in The Independent. Further coverage included two ­pieces in The Guardian and extensive regional coverage.

The Guardian travel editor Andy ­Pietrasik said: ‘The [culture cab] was a great story, a really unusual way of getting the messages out about the cultural side of York.’

Over 12,000 people visited the central event, Recovered Light, far exceeding expectations. Unique visitors to the website ( during January to March 2007 increased by over 41,000 on the previous year.

Media coverage had an AVE of £90,000 and reached over 48 million people. The campaign gave a 640 per cent return on investment.

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