A symphony of design: Insight and NZSO play a different tune to attract new audiences

Like most arts organisations, The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra is focused on attracting new audiences. For the 2017 campaign, they acknowledged that new audiences weren’t being attracted by the traditional ways of marketing their upcoming season. Insight Creative proposed a new approach to deliver cut-through and to position a night at the NZSO as a viable arts and entertainment experience.

Through insights gained via global arts/culture sector research and segmentation, Insight Creative identified several potential new audiences.

For the season 2017 campaign, Insight decided to focus specifically on the festival arts crowd as they are already largely aware of the NZSO and are pre-disposed to excellent live performance.  

By creating audience personas, Insight identified that many in this crowd had preconceptions and the marketing challenge was getting them to think of orchestra music as a relevant cultural expression and the NZSO as a world-class creative experience.

The overall creative theme for the season was Unexpect, to challenge perceptions head on and express the idea that an NZSO experience is not what you expect, it’s different and better. It also captures the idea that going to an NZSO concert is an experience that will move you –physically and emotionally – in a way you weren’t prepared for.

The theme is visually expressed using a selection of orchestra players who, at first glance, look like the target audience. This accessible style is very different from the high-end approaches you usually see from the orchestra or ballet, further adding to that sense of the unexpected. The players are shown ‘blown away’ by the emotive energy of the music.

By using players in the posters, without props and dressed in their ‘street clothes’, it shows that the NZSO are people just like you – creative, arty, youthful, diverse, dynamic and connected, rather than the stereotypes you might think make up, and go to, the orchestra.

Strong bold copy adds to the unexpected and again requires audiences to rethink what they know.

Insight focused on a number of integrated communication channels. First, a street poster campaign for each concert, with a very different feel from past NZSO concert programmes. These are supported by online, search engine and social media marketing activities. Slade adds “We developed a new audience flyer to sit in cafes, museums, theatres and other arts and culture places where our audiences frequent. The fold-out flyer takes a direct approach; challenging preconceptions head on and addressing those concerns that are barriers to attendance.”

The campaign is supported by Insight’s new NZSO website, including a ‘new to the orchestra’ section and a questionnaire to help audiences select concerts based on their taste in movies, music and books.

The NZSO is already seeing a marked audience profile change, and the campaign’s strong cut-through and recall is helping to enhance ticket sales.

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