CAMPAIGNS: Country Living sets out its stall - Exhibition PR

Client: The National Magazine Company

Client: The National Magazine Company

PR Team: PR Team: In-house

Campaign: Country Living Christmas Fair

Timescale: July-November 1997

Cost: Undisclosed

The second Country Living Christmas Fair was held at London’s Business

Design Centre in Islington from 12 to 16 November. The Fair provides a

one-stop shop for Christmas shopping offering creative, gift ideas across

a wide range of products, often not available in the high street.

Exhibitors are selected carefully by Country Living magazine and this

year’s Fair was expanded from four to five days. A sister event, Country

Living’s Spring Fair, has been running for six years and concentrates on

locally made countryside products.


To promote the ticket sales of the pre-Christmas event, raise awareness of

the magazine, bring its pages to life and complement, yet remain distinct

from, the Spring Fair.


The campaign was targeted at the national and London-based media - in

contrast to the Spring Fair’s emphasis on regional media. With the slogan,

’Country Living has Christmas all wrapped up’, teaser boxes of Christmas

decorations and hand-made cards were sent to shopping editors on the

nationals. This was followed by gift boxes with exhibitors’ products

selected to appeal to each publication.

Attendance was promoted with discount vouchers in the Sunday Times and a

competition in the Mail on Sunday. Country Living also linked up with

Farthing Holidays to offer a weekend package to the Fair.

With the Christmas Fair NatMags wanted to reach a younger audience than

the Spring Fair and worked with one of the exhibitors, Rocombe Farm Fresh

Ice Cream, to create 11 bizarre, new organic flavours which were then

targeted at 11 morning radio DJs and presenters. These included trout and

chips flavour for Chris Tarrant, a keen angler; ginger and spice for Chris

Evans, and Maltesers for Zoe Ball. These were delivered while the shows

were on air at the beginning of the week of the Fair, with press releases

sent out to other media.


Pre-show publicity achieved coverage in the Express, the Mail on Sunday’s

You magazine, the Guardian and listings magazines. The ice cream delivery

elicited numerous radio mentions, with Chris Tarrant often referring to

his trout and chips, and it was covered by Sky News, IRM, ITN and regional

press. Around 30,000 attended the Fair and during it there were TV and

radio interviews and a live broadcast of Michael van Straten’s LBC radio

show, Body Talk.


NatMags is faced with the unenviable task of maintaining interest in both

the Spring and Christmas Fairs without media fatigue setting in.

The ice cream angle tapped firmly into the youth market, opening up media

outlets that would normally have had little interest in the Fair.

With full price tickets at pounds 10, the Fair’s 30,000 visitors and 330

exhibitors have certainly been a success in terms of revenue. The two

events now provide a firm brand extension for the magazine and, as editor

Susy Smith points out, ’an opportunity both to meet existing readers and

introduce ourselves to visitors’.

The two Fairs provide scope for a steady flow of promotional ideas

throughout the year, although the constant need to avoid media burn out

means the momentum might be difficult to maintain.

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