The challenge facing us
Four plays about fame, sex, Govanhill and the gritty lives of Liverpool’s young people. Launching the first Chrysalis festival, featuring performances by young theatre-makers at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, was not for the faint of heart. We needed to attract an audience and to start to challenge the existing perceptions of youth theatre.

What we did
There was a lot of brain power used in this campaign. We commissioned audience research agency Culture Republic to analyse youth theatre attenders in Scotland and the existing Traverse audience. The findings were used to select audience target groups and to build the communications strategy.

A key group we wanted to engage with were young people in their 20s and 30s. Heavy users of digital devices and the internet, we had to be careful to avoid falling into the trap that social media was the only way to reach this group. The research told us that email marketing, our website and traditional print media (brochures, flyers, popular press and TV coverage) all needed to be part of the mix as well.

The brand identity for the festival was carefully nurtured. A fine line was tread so we did not look like we were promoting a club or trying too hard to be ‘cool’. We worked with a French abstract artist and a Scottish illustrator to create the festival identity. A young festival producer helped to advise us on the identify development.

The performing theatres provided content for the online campaign; blog posts, videos, photographs, reviews and features: all related to their scripts. We made sure that a variety of types of content were produced and used on channels that suited them. Horizon scanning was also part of this project – finding out what else was happening in the city that could provide extra content ideas for the online activity (such as Movember).  We also:

  • Commissioned and managed suppliers: designers, a film-maker, media buyer, printer and distribution agencies.
  • Venue liaison to maximise promotional opportunities
  • Online advertising management (Facebook Ads)
  • Email newsletter management
  • Social media management
  • Photocall/photocall notice
  • Press releases
  • Liaison with the Cabinet Secretary team – briefing notes, event planning
  • Video trailer
  • Flyer
  • Posters
  • Press adverts
  • Programme production
  • Media partnerships.

What we achieved
The festival itself became famous – over 1,152 tickets were booked (86% of capacity) against a target of 780. The Traverse Theatre felt that the festival was ‘surprisingly busy’ and highlighted the younger profile of the audience.

When we asked ticket buyers how they had found out about the festival, half of the information sources they mentioned were managed by us. There were many positive comments about youth theatre in the national press. The festival was selected as ‘Top Pick of the Week’ in The Guardian, and the Patron of Youth Theatre Arts Scotland Sam Heughan (star of Outlander), was interviewed on The Fountainbridge Show (STV Edinburgh) and The Riverside Show (STV Glasgow).

You can hear James talk about the Chrysalis festival campaign on the Culture Republic podcast.

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