Finding the big idea

I come up with ways of encouraging people to visit our museums and online channels.

In 2008, I watched the Victorian part of the National Museum of Scotland close for the building work to begin. Time has flown by and we’re now getting ready to open the bigger, better National Museum of Scotland.

We marketing people promote new products and services, but we don’t often get the chance to launch a new landmark like the National Museum of Scotland.

The bit of the campaign I’ve been working on is the paid-for advertising campaign.

With the advertising campaign we want to communicate that our new museum is a major attraction, create interest in the opening and attract larger audiences than ever before (from 615,000 visitors 2010/11 to over a million in the first year of the new museum).

My work on the campaign began in October 2010 with advertising agency Frame and media buyers MediaCom Edinburgh (346 emails and 40 meetings ago!). At the start Frame asked us probing questions – how would we convince a visitor that they should visit our new museum?  What makes us different?  Why should the consumer care? Visits to the new museum site to view work in progress, and to meet those curating new galleries, events and experiences followed, so they could get under the skin of the project.

The paid campaign aims to reach people living within 45 minutes of the museum. However, it will be seen by other audiences as well – for example, the Edinburgh tourism audience in town during the Edinburgh Festival.

The adverts need to make potential visitors feel that the new museum is a great place, with lots of things to see and do. Frame came up with visuals that generate intrigue and hopefully will drive visits.

The idea (or creative platform) is called ‘discover the bigger picture’.  The thinking behind it (or rationale) is:

Discover the Bigger Picture is about encouraging you to look deeper into things. To find out more. We’re inviting you on a journey. We want you to uncover the surprising and inspiring connections behind each and every story. We want you to be curious. We want to make you question things. We want to inspire you. We want you to discover the bigger picture at the National Museum of Scotland.

This big idea was then expressed in a range of marketing collateral, from outdoor posters, press adverts, street banners, Facebook competitions and a whole host of other communication touchpoints.

From Dinos to Dodos: one of the campaign images for the new National Museum of Scotland
From Dinos to Dodos: one of the campaign images for the new National Museum of Scotland.

You can see one of the ten final campaign visuals above. The campaign shows our objects in interesting combinations and reflects the diversity of our collection – always inviting the viewer to ‘Discover the Bigger Picture’.

Once we had found what we thought was the right campaign idea, we asked the audience what they thought. Campaign copy and visuals were shown to current visitors to find out what it meant to them, and if it would make them visit. In the research, it did.

We carefully selected objects that represented the range of objects and themes on show in our new galleries. The objects chosen also needed to have adult and family appeal, be intriguing and provoke curiosity.

While working on the visuals, our media buyers MediaCom Edinburgh were thinking hard about where and when to place them to make sure we reach our target audiences. There were many months of difficult questions as we debated which the most effective channels to place the adverts.

Campaign visuals with a high visual impact were used for larger moving formats like bus adverts. Others featuring objects like the Lewis Chessmen, which we know are key objects for tourism audiences, were used mainly outwith our target area.

Airmen to Chessmen: one of the campaign images
Airmen to Chessmen: another of the campaign images.

The timing of when the paid adverts were to start was also considered carefully – in the end we are aiming for a crescendo in profile – peaking the paid advertising activity from launch (when people can see the adverts and visit straight away) and sustaining interest beyond the opening week.

As you may have noticed, the campaign has already begun – the Larvae to Lava visual is already on Twitter, Facebook and our website. Yesterday the visuals went on show in the real world on banners in Princes Street, Edinburgh. Closer to the opening they will be on buses, bus stops, newspapers and magazines, and other more exciting places that I won’t mention now for you to spot.

The campaign bus advertisement.
One of the bus adverts.

One of my more regular phrases is that the ‘proof is in the pudding’. I’ll be watching our visitor numbers like a hawk from 29 July. Come along for the opening ceremony from 09:15 on 29 July and Discover the Bigger Picture for yourself!

- Posted

Add your comments


Related posts