Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Attracting new audiences and increasing footfall

Engaging and inclusive campaign elevates SBT’s status as a go-to UK attraction: increasing visitor numbers and engagement.

The challenge

Each year, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) launches a visual marketing campaign designed to encourage people to visit Shakespeare’s family homes. This year, SBT was looking to compete on a much larger scale than they had previously, encouraging people to visit on a national level. Our challenge was to create a confident on-brand campaign with a wide reach, engaging audiences and appealing toa broad range of people. They aim to be inclusive of everyone – from families to history buffs, gardening enthusiasts to students.

To stay within the project budget, the campaign neededto be appropriate for a broad audience rather than specifically tailoring adverts to individual group’s interests. The campaign spanned multiple media platforms, including print, online, interactive ads, and video.

The solution

As the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust was looking to compete and establish a presence at a national level, we first looked at their competitors’ marketing activity. This research showed that the majority of iconic attractions used experience-led advertising. Based on this insight, we felt an important aspect of the new campaign should be to focus on visitor experience.

The next step was to look at how we could bring SBT’s offering to life: how can we most effectively capture a whole experience – both the fun and more “reverent” aspects? We wanted to emphasise SBT’s important history in the campaign, but we also needed to celebrate what SBT has to offer future generations.

As an overarching message, we worked to present Shakespeare as timeless – emphasising past, present and future. We used simple and single-minded messaging across all touch-points for a compelling and memorable campaign message.

The chosen visuals had a mix of different focuses for different publications, to suit the intended audience. For example, centring on SBT’s gardens for nature-lovers and Mary Arden’s Farm for animal-lovers. Our core image featured a woman in historical dress with the backdrop showcasing both the architecture and natural beauty at SBT.

The visuals for video transitioned from traditional costume to centering on the modern visitor experience, highlighting the past, present, and future of SBT. The imagery featured people of different ages with emphasis on different aspects of SBT’s offering, allowing everyone to see themselves at the Birthplace Trust (from family-orientated to history enthusiasts).
The imagery worked as a visual cue alongside the copy, articulating SBT’s offering in an engaging, reflective, and authentic manner.

The results

The campaign is confident, emotive, and stays true to the SBT brand. The digital media plans and collateral present SBT with a number of different options. The campaign is still ongoing, so it’s difficult to gauge the full impact. However, initial signs are really promising: to date, visitor numbers are up 4% and digital and social advertising is performing above the industry benchmark.

We asked mark-making* to develop an engaging, impactful, multi-platform campaign with the aim of driving visitors to Shakespeare’s family homes and positioning us as a go-to destination for audiences across the UK. We’ve been really impressed with the creative and are seeing a positive impact with an increase in visitors to both the family homes and our website.

David Wright Head of Marketing, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust