The Art Gallery of Ontario receives the 2006 Tourism Award for its new media campaign for the exhibition “Catherine the Great”

Gillian Stecyk is the Marketing coordinator of the Art Gallery of Ontario. The gallery received in 2006 a local award on the Catherine The Great intiative and on the blog. As this experience could be considered as a “best pratice” in the domains of cultural PR and marketing, I wished to get some more information…

Culture et Communication :
Could you please briefly describe the overall marketing strategy ?

Gillian Stecyk :
Major changes are underway at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), one of North America ’s finest art museums. The AGO is engaged in a major expansion of its facility. Designed by world renowned architect and Toronto native Frank Gehry, the transformation is expected to be complete in 2008. The AGO is committed to remaining open during construction, with a portion of its significant collections on view. Despite the expansion, the AGO is dedicated to maintaining its high level of tourist visitation and continues to program and promote world-class exhibitions in order to do so. In concert with our major 2005 exhibition Catherine the Great – Arts for the Empire – Masterpieces from The State Hermitage Museum, Russia (October 1, 2005 to January 3, 2006) the Gallery launched – a blog site and podcast series that leveraged a public campaign called Art Matters to increase awareness of Transformation AGO’s four pillars;

CC :
Who was the target audience ?

The target market for the launch of was an international audience interested in the cultural history of Russia, the revitalization of the Toronto cultural infrastructure and the work of Frank Gehry for the AGO.
What were your marketing objectives ?

An integrated interactive marketing campaign was designed to included e-mail marketing, online contest data capture, online advertising, blogging and podcasting. It was intended to generate interest and drive attendance to the Catherine the Great exhibition by extending the exhibition experience beyond the Gallery walls via the internet.

CC :
How much can you measure the success of the campain ?

Our first attempt at blogging, podcasting and online advertising with modest expectations yielded surprising results. We tracked blog site hits and podcast downloads. There were over 13,000 podcast downloads and 62,000 blog site visits over the three month exhibition period. The online contest generated 3664 e-newsletter subscriptions from 10,841 contest entries. A very modest banner ad buy of 250,000 impressions generated 651 clicks to our web site.

CC :
What was the budget for this campaign ?

The online campaign budget was $5,000.

CC :
Could you please describe how the initiative was effective and provide a brief description of the outcome/results ?

As a proof of concept for an AGO blog and podcast channel, the launch of was very effective. The overwhelming interest in the podcast lectures showed that podcasting is not just for a demographic of young early adopters. People are looking for quality content and the Art Gallery of Ontario is seen as an authoritative source. We believe that the effective early use of the integrated interactive channels for Catherine the Great has led to results in subsequent Gallery exit surveys which show that internet is increasingly becoming an important source of information for audience considering a visit to the AGO.

Thanks a lot Gillian.

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