Travel & Tourism Research Association Article

TTRA Article page 10/11

Recipe for a Successful Viral marketing Campaign:

ROI @2400:1

Translation: Return on investment at a ratio of two thousand four hundred to one. Wouldn’t we all like to achieve such outstanding results from our marketing investments? Well this is the return achieved by the viral marketing campaign I created for Shakespeare Country, when I was their Chief Executive; in this article I am going to share with you the circumstances and the thinking behind this incredibly successful campaign.

The Campaign:‘Romeo Wherefore Art Thou?’ is an award winning viral game created during the darkest months of 2008 and 2009. The world-wide credit crunch was now a global financial crisis, social media and on-line marketing was overshadowing more traditional forms and every business was trying to maximise their marketing reach during the ensuing recession whilst also reducing their budgets and introducing cost saving practices.

TTRA Article

The Background: Local destination management organisation with a world renowned destination to promote with a desire to raise its world-wide profile with a local budget; so social media was the chosen route as it was a surging force on the internet with MySpace, FaceBook, YouTube and Twitter becoming the fastest growing web sites for users and traffic.

The Research: Viral was the route and social media the opportunity for little actual/additional cost (other than time). So I analysed what made a successful viral campaign and quickly came to the conclusion that sex, humour or interactive sells but for obvious reasons some of these were inappropriate mediums for our target audience and corporate sponsors; I’m not a comedian and lots of the successful viral humour is sex related or slapstick (or people genuinely injuring themselves), so those were also discounted as inappropriate campaign mediums; so I needed to create a campaign that allowed the public to get involved enough that they would want to send it to their friends to participate in also, hopefully with a bit of humour, slapstick and titillation at an acceptable level. This became the recipe for viral success.

The Examples: Warwick Castle had developed a really entertaining video campaign to promote their up and coming Dungeon experience; GoLakes had an entertaining video of a person in a giant squirrel suit rapping a Wordsworth poem in the Lake District; however all of these seemed unsuitable for the Shakespeare Country brand; I then discovered a NetFlights campaign which was a luggage throwing game, simple, addictively entertaining, it sold destinations as part of the gaming environment and it was suitably engaging enough for me to want to tell my colleagues and friends as well as being fun.

The Concept:Create a simple game that anyone regardless of gaming aptitude could play, in an environment that emulated the destination, balancing the promotional advertising element of the campaign with the entertaining fun element of the game. I also wanted the destination to be represented in a warm light, literally, the sun always shining, the grass always green and the birds always tweeting.

TTRA Article

The Game: Romeo has to negotiate the level to get to Juliet and find Roses, Hearts and the Bard’s plays on the way for points and/or to complete the level all set in Shakespeare Country.

The Stages: Shakespeare’s Birthplace, the Church where he is buried and the Theatre where his plays are still performed and all the other Shakespeare related properties.

The Foreground: Platform based game area, similar to the Super Mario games from Nintendo – three functions only; forward, back and jump.

The Middle Ground: Generic images of Shakespeare Country representing Stratford-Upon-Avon – with perfect summer holiday weather conditions.

The Background: Images of attractions around Shakespeare Country to promote the breadth of quality attractions on offer, including: Warwick Castle, Blenheim Palace, Kenilworth Castle, Compton Verney etc.

The Interactivity: High Score Competition entry button, Challenge/Share your Score with your Friends button, Visit Shakespeare Country web site button.

The Results: Over 24,000,000 (twenty four million) plays in under a year; Over 180,000 (one hundred and eighty thousand) e-mail addresses added to our consumer database; More than 200,000 (two hundred thousand) additional unique visitors to the Shakespeare Country web site each month every month with over 500,000 (five hundred thousand) additional unique visitors in its first full month after launch and as the game is fully viral, at the last count it was also being featured promoted on over a 1,200 (one thousand two hundred) other web sites.

The Accolades: ‘Romeo Wherefore Art Thou?’  has won numerous awards including: Best Viral Spread Gold Award at the British Interactive Media Association Awards 2009, Best Online Game Silver Award at the Roses Design Awards 2009,  Best Campaign That Went Viral Silver Award at the Drum Award for Digital Industries 2009 and Best Interactive Entertainment Website, Game or Campaign Highly recommended Award at the Drum Award for Digital Industries 2009.

Phil Hackett

The End: The game saw the largest increases in numbers when we promoted it and it was subsequently circulated on Twitter and FaceBook by our/my followers and friends, but to be honest it did better than we ever imagined it would, hopefully you can repeat, replicate or ask me to help you.


Phil Hackett

Advocate for Tourism, Heritage & Culture

About X-Wide P

Award winning advocate for the arts, heritage & culture; Fine Artist & Curator at StudionAme; Resources Manager for Leicester Arts, Museums, Festivals & Events; Founder & Curator of L.O.V.E. Art the Leicester Open Exhibition
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