Timed around the Hallowe’en half term school break, this experiential marketing design mixes a sense of “fear” and fun to attract maximum footfall and generate awareness of an issue that lies beneath the surface.
Coinciding with the half-term school break around Hallowe’en, our client wanted to maximise this opportunity to raise awareness of an issue many of us may not be aware of: the inconvenience and serious issues that flushing the wrong things down the toilet can cause, and how that practice can impact the correct functioning of the sewer system, with the subsequent effect on public health as well as the high costs involved to put things right.
Having chosen one of the busiest shopping destinations in Manchester city centre, the Arndale Centre, United Utilities wanted to attract the attention of children – and ultimately their parents – to educate them on what not to flush down the toilet. What our client had in mind was a highly engaging experience that would combine a sense of the unknown / what lies beneath in the sewer network with a story and characters inspired by the combination of fear and fun that the Hallowe’en season brings.
With the initial idea already formed, our brief was to come up with an experiential marketing design that would transmit that concept and attract the attention of as many children, and parents, as possible to approach the United Utilities space to find out more.
Part of the challenge for this project was also the restricted access to carry out the set-up and build on the site (only between 10 pm and 6 am), and then only from 10 pm to derig after the 4-day experience had ended. Another key consideration was the stringent regulations and compliance around health and safety in an area with high traffic of people.
We developed and evolved our client’s initial idea and turned it into an experience that “takes” the audience into the dark depths of the sewer network, and almost feels like a scary haunted attraction at a theme park. To help our client visualise what the experience would look like in the space they had booked, we provided them with a basic scamp that shows the impact our experiential marketing design would create.
Being familiar with the area of the Arndale Centre where our client had booked the plot, we knew that the public would be able to walk around the whole experience, so we looked at every detail from all angles to maximise impact at every touchpoint.
To make the experience as realistic and memorable as possible, we worked with one of our partners, specialists in designing props for theatre and film and TV sets, to create an imposing 2m x 2m and 3m-tall structure that would attract attention immediately. Built from timber for easy storage and transportation, the structure was painted to look like brickwork and distressed cast iron, a realistic representation of the Victorian sewers that are still in use today.
We installed an imposing 75-inch TV that played an animation on loop.
The animation presents a cartoon-like scene straight out of the inside of a sewer, and serves as a fun way of educating children on the “ghouls” and “monsters” that can fill up and block the sewer network as a result of people throwing the wrong things down the toilet, and what they can do as “blockbusters” to ensure sewers are free from them.
The sticker leading to the structure is a removable graphic, produced in a durable anti-slip laminate material that complies with health and safety regulations.
Round the back, a door also painted to make it look like the entrance to a Victorian sewer adds a sense of mystery to the audience journey, while giving access to a useful storage area for the United Utilities team to keep their belongings as well as collateral and give-aways that would be handed out over the 4-day experience.
Perspex display cases with items that have been recovered from the sewer network bring audiences close to the issue, maximising awareness and helping generate a strong desire to make a difference by changing habits.
Plastic cutlery, toys, drink cans and even a floor mop: all found in sewers and put on display to create maximum impact
The experience went beyond the plot booked by our client, with vinyls dotted around the highest footfall areas in the upper and lower malls directing shoppers to the experience, helping generate curiosity and a sense of added fun and interactivity for children.
The structure for the experience was built in such a way that it can be collapsed, transported and stored easily, and we’re already discussing a slide deck and pack so our client can sell the experience to other high profile locations.
“A very big thank you to you and the team for putting together the set, install and derig – it all came together so well.
We’re really pleased with all the customer engagement and feedback: lots of interesting viewpoints which we can use to evolve our comms strategies. We felt the experience worked very well in capturing the attention of the children, which then enabled that opportune interaction with parents!
The experiential marketing design worked very well for us too – it was great to have that lockable space for all our kit and collateral.
Thanks again to you and the team. It was great that all the elements of the event came together and worked so well for us – a good job well done!”