The folks at Rainbow Network, “the UK’s biggest gay Web site”, knew that this year’s Mardi Gras festival in London would be a good opportunity to raise awareness of their site amongst gay men and lesbians... they just weren’t sure that the £47,000 the organisers wanted for a part-sponsorship could be justified in terms of ROI. So they decided to try a bit of guerrilla marketing instead!
They produced 30,000 Rainbow Network whistles (if you’ve never been on a ‘Pride’ march, you should know that whistles are an ESSENTIAL accessory), and, with the help of a crack team of volunteers, distributed them amongst the hordes of marchers. The volunteers were a highly-trained bunch (!) – “aware that most people, when handed something, will usually end up throwing it away or, in this case, getting drunk and dropping it in a dance tent, so we put them round the necks of people we handed them out to,” says Tony Newland, Advertising and Sponsorship Manager. “We wanted to encourage people to use them throughout the day, and of course take them home afterwards and visit the URL we’d had printed on the lanyards!” A special URL, of course – well, they needed some way of tracking the results...
Rainbow Network had 1,500 members sign up as a direct result of this exercise. Monthly page impressions increased by 120,000 over the period immediately following the campaign, and, says Tony, these extra impressions have stuck, raising the growth curve of traffic a notch.
NOTES: The campaign was repeated at other gay events during the summer – Birmingham Pride, Nottingham Pride, and so on. These events are much smaller than Mardi Gras (or whatever they happen to be calling it in any given year), and the jump in figures was less pronounced but, Rainbow Network reports, “steady”. Towards the end of ‘Pride season’, we’re told, people were even seen to be sporting whistles they’d picked up at earlier events...
COST: £9,000 – substantially less than the Mardi Gras organisers were after. But, with hindsight, does the Rainbow Network team think that a part-sponsorship of the event might have been more successful in terms of new members? “We couldn’t possibly comment on the stellar results we might have achieved had we paid £47,000 to sponsor a tent holding 2,900 drunk and stoned homosexuals dancing to techno in a North London field,” beams Tony. “Why don’t you ask gay.com?”
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