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#4. Wadsworth Atheneum - Surrealist Exhibit

Wadsworth Atheneum - Surrealist Exhibit MarketingSherpa Summary:
This campaign proves local "brick and mortar" marketers can use online viral campaigns to drive real-world foot traffic with measurable results. Although the campaign was for an arts organization, we hope traditional and multichannel retailers, in particular, will be inspired by it to launch viral tactics of their own. How about a dress-your-own celebrity model contest that leads generates in-store coupons for all players…. ooh ooh, the ideas are endless!

Agency: Cronin and Co
Client/company: Wadsworth Atheneum
Brand campaign was conducted for: Surrealist Exhibit
Launch date of campaign: Mid September 05
Target audience/demographic: Young urban, suburban museum goers

Campaign Goal:
The Wadsworth Atheneum was looking for new ways to spread the word and attract a younger audience to this show. Previously all advertising was in print and some radio.

We used online ads in local publications to drive traffic to the "Surrealist Painter" application. Application is built in Flash 8 with "surreal elements" custom built for the application. We measured banner clicks from ad server and relied on client for site traffic measurement and, more importantly, foot traffic measurement.

Seed Strategy:
Primarily the online advertising which drove users to the "Surreal Painter" tool. We also encouraged internal use of tool and sending to friend by people at agency and Museum

Buzz Generated:

Specific (Goal-Related) Campaign Results:
Lots of data on this from multiple sources, but here are the significant samplings:
  • 62% above October 2004 (9197) - above October 2004 by 5,724
  • 102% above September 2004 (7,369), above September 2004 by 7,552
  • 36% above goal (11,000), above goal by 3,921
  • 9% above 10 year average (13,716), above 10 year average by 1,205
The Wadsworth has averaged 577 individual admissions each weekend day since the Dali, Picasso and the Surrealist Vision exhibition opened. For the same period in October 2004, they averaged 208 admissions on each weekend day.

Ordinarily the Wadsworth site attracted 500 to 700 unique sessions a day. After the online campaign and the "surreal painter" tool was launched began in mid-September, daily unique sessions crossed 1,000 and in some weeks even touched 8,000.

Nearly 50 percent of the site traffic was attributed to the new SurrealPainter tool.

"During the opening week of the exhibition, when buzz was at its peak, the painter was getting a new submission every 90 seconds," said Dan McKinley, communications and marketing manager of the Wadsworth Atheneum.

Through October, the online advertising campaign received 1.8 million impressions and 4,930 clicks. The click-through rate was 0.27 percent on the museum's banners versus the normal rate of 0.15 percent for those sites. At its peak, the click-through rate hovered around 0.5 percent.

At this same period there were 1,366 conversions, meaning that 1,366 people clicked and then used the SurrealPainter tool. We measured the conversion-to-click ratio at 27.71 percent.

Biggest Learning:
Would like to have more accurate measures of relationship between use of viral tool and actual attendance, i.e. use of couponing. Better measurement of "forward-to-friend" would also have helped. Generally more control of metrics. If I had to do again I would work harder at seeding in blogs

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