"113 Days of Art" Advertising Campaign
The Office of the President/The Office of the Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations
Each summer, IU Bloomington is the site of more than 70 different arts events. IU Bloomington offers a vibrant schedule of arts programming all year long, but attendance flags while students are away in the summer. To help transform the campus into a tourist destination, the university decided to package all music, theatre, dance, art, and cinema programming as "The IU Summer Festival of the Arts."
To promote the festival, IU Communications created an umbrella campaign called "113 Days of Art." The scope of work included:
- Summer Festival of the Arts Website
- Logo and visual identity
- Print and online ads
- Posters and banners
- Playbills and brochures
We used surveys and trackable URLs to determine which publications had the greatest reach. IU Communications performed a competitive analysis of summer arts marketing at other universities and through regional convention and visitors bureaus. Our goal was to ensure our message would stand out among similar appeals to the same target market.
Research also played a significant role in choosing where ads were published and which events were highlighted as the campaign progressed. Ads were assigned unique URLs so that we could track which publications generated the greatest response. Audience members at Summer Festival of the Arts events were provided with survey cards asking them how they heard about the events they were attending. Other questions asked whether they had visited the website and what forms of media they used to find out about upcoming arts events.
When managing a festival program that included numerous invested entities, we understood ticket prices would fluctuate, bad weather would occur, and performance times would be delayed. Another challenge was maintaining open channels of communication between art partners and venues.
Our project management team stayed in touch with representatives at each venue to ensure that the website calendar of events was continually updated as needed throughout the summer, and that we promoted late-breaking events in print ads. The advertising campaign included 30 separate print ads appearing in newspapers and magazines in Bloomington, Indianapolis, Louisville, and Chicago over the course of a three-month period. Most ads were event-specific and had to be carefully planned to make sure each was relevant.
To promote Bloomington as an arts destination, the university and community joined forces to create a full promotional campaign including an interactive website, print and TV advertising spots, direct marketing material, bus ads, campus signage, billboards, and email newsletters.
The 113 Days website serves as a single, integrated planning tool that provides a complete list of all programming at the Jacobs School of Music, IU Cinema, IU Art Museum, Mathers Museum, Lilly Library, Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center, and the Grunwald Gallery. Users can also scan events by genre. Listings include brief descriptions, links to ticket information, and venue details.
We leveraged our existing communications channels, including the official IU Bloomington Twitter feed and Facebook page, to provide day-of-event reminders to thousands of followers.
To reach arts aficionados who may not follow Indiana University on social media, we developed an extensive advertising campaign that focused on arts publications and newspapers in Bloomington, Indianapolis, Louisville, and Chicago. Print ads outside the Bloomington area highlighted marquee events for Friday and Saturday nights. Our goal was to position Bloomington and Indiana University as an affordable weekend getaway.
We also targeted parents of incoming students traveling to Bloomington for orientation activities. IU Communications partnered with the Office of First Year Experience Programs to distribute flyers and brochures to their participants.
The bottom line: Attendance increased across the board. In its second year of existence, the 113 Days of Art campaign showed strong numbers and has been well received by all invested parties and target audiences.
Analytics attached to the website continue to reflect a rise in traffic, our data shows:
- To date, 646 people have subscribed to the newsletter–with a greater-than-average interest in the email messages as demonstrated by a 59% open rate (industry average is 13%).
- The site received 37,070 total visits in the spring and summer of 2012, a 106.84% increase compared to the same time period in 2011.
- An almost 82% increase in regional, non-Bloomington visitors from 2011 to 2012
- Total page views increased 140% from 2011 to 2012
Participating venues also reported larger-than-average attendance throughout the summer. More than 2,400 visitors attended The Kinsey Institute Juried Exhibition at the SoFA Gallery (since renamed the Grunwald Gallery). At the IU Cinema, several films attracted near-capacity audiences, with nearly 600 patrons in attendance for screenings of Cave of Forgotten Dreams and The Tree of Life. More than 5,000 theatregoers saw The Music Man during its run, while productions of A Comedy of Errors and Ah, Wilderness! attracted 1,600 and 1,200 patrons respectively.
113 Days of larger-than-average audiences. We interviewed stakeholders from each venue about their experiences with the 113 Days of Art campaign. Overall, they felt the 113 Days improved attendance at their events and increased their visibility in the regional arts community.
"I would say that the advertising helped attendance, boosting numbers from 14 to 90 percent. Not very scientific, as the marketability of the film, day of the week, and other factors play in, but there was still a positive effect."
Jon Vickers, IU Cinema
"In all, I think the project was a success and our audiences benefited from knowing about the festival events through IU Communications' channels. We did a few things differently this year, which also benefited our audiences, which were robust! In all, the campaign definitely helped and we were delighted to coordinate with a centrally conceived and funded marketing plan."
Alain Barker, Jacobs School of Music
"One of the collaborative components that worked so well with SoFA was how we were able to schedule our promotional efforts in a complimentary fashion with yours. This helped us keep the message flowing in the most efficient way. I know that as we look forward, I will be paying particular attention to your plans in order to better integrate them with ours. I agree that a huge factor in attracting new audience was the campus-wide collaboration."
John Kinzer, IU Theatre
"From my perspective, the campaign was very successful. We heard a number of people talking about the 113 Days and what a great idea it was. The Indiana Festival Theatre did extremely well for our first summer – we sold almost 8,000 tickets and feel like we got people’s attention and they were enthusiastic about the shows we presented. We had a number of audience members for which this was the first time in our theatres – I think that was due in part to the 113 Days campaign."
Jonathan Michaelsen, IU Theatre
"We did have higher numbers at the show than last year, so it is possible that the marketing helped."
Betsy Stirratt, SoFA Gallery
"We did see an uptick in our attendance—perhaps about 8% more visitation this summer."
Judy Kirk, Mathers Museum
"I talked with my staff about this, and we all noticed that more people than expected came to the Archives to see the Cushman exhibit. What we cannot definitively determine is why that happened. However, I think it safe to say that the Summer Festival of the Arts campaign contributed to this larger than expected attendance."
Phil Bantin, IU Archives