The National Trust are a charity with a cause to look after special places for ever, for everyone. Their latest 10 year organisational strategy is about how they deliver that cause with most impact in the 21st century. However, consumer perception of the National Trust is way out of synch with their mission and holds back the potential impact it can have.
Awareness of the National Trust is in decline (losing relevance), less than half of their own members know that they are a charity and the general public see them as an out of touch organisation buying up country houses so the elderly can drink tea and eat cake.
Our role was to reinvent National Trust communications from visitor marketing (i.e. getting people to visit properties) to cause-led brand marketing - getting more people to understand the cause and feel it matters to them personally.
'I Oakleaf' campaign
We made the oak leaf of the National Trust logo a living symbol for our unique and powerful relationship with the places. Like love, complex and rich but subtly different.
The oak leaf becomes a verb, an active expression of our feelings about places. Both personal and universal, we can use it to explore all aspects of our relationship to places.
This campaign was able to capture the sense of place and/or activities specific to the properties featured to drive visitor numbers, but at the same time was a bold, strong statement about the purpose of the Trust i.e. growing the nation’s love of special places.
'Love the Coast' campaign
We were charged with developing a creative proposition and resulting campaign that would change perceptions and behaviour. Specifically, we needed to increase:
· Awareness of the Trust’s protection of 775 miles of UK coastline
· Reappraisal of the Trust as a whole
· Relevance to people’s lives via participation
· Visits to coastal and countryside properties
Qualitative research revealed that as an island nation we have a strong attachment to the British coast – yet most of us rarely visit. Whilst we claim love for our beaches and seaside towns, many opt to visit more exotic locations abroad when it comes to choosing a coast to visit. We identified a group who were emblematic of this behaviour: Explorer Families, who regularly partake in outdoor activities together. This audience became the key strategic target, yet our approach would need to resonate widely with the British public.
Our strategic challenge stemming from our insight dive was clear: to change perceptions and behaviour, we needed to reawaken the dormant love for the British coastline, and highlight and celebrate the National Trust’s work protecting it.
‘Love the Coast’ was the unifying creative proposition, validated in qualitative research. We re-awakened people’s love by compelling them to co-create an ode to the coast. We penned the first lines and then asked the public to complete it by sharing their memories, lines, images and video via #lovethecoast. We then enlisted Dr. John Cooper Clarke to curate and finish the poem in an attention-grabbing twist. We released the result; a beautiful ode to the British seaside, penned and inspired by thousands of submissions on National Poetry Day with a film of the poem featuring members of the public, volunteers, rangers and Dr. John Cooper Clarke himself. The ode to the coast was immortalised in a book we created, which is now carried in National Trust properties across the country.
We developed a phased media roll-out designed to optimise the effectiveness of the campaign, ensuring consistently high engagement:
1) broadcast campaign launch to emotionally connect and call to act
2) public participation via digital and social channels to share memories and love for the coast, culminating in
3) the release of the finished ode across broadcast channels and online
Across channels and the length of the campaign, we ensured that the Love the Coast creative worked cumulatively to deepen the emotional relevance of the Trust in addition to the coast, and laddered back to the brand’s core purpose of protecting special places for ever for everyone.
Our campaign drove reappraisal and increased awareness of the Trust’s protection of UK coastline:
· Reaching 69% of the target audience, the Trust’s association with the coast was the strongest amongst the charity sector, including RNLI lifeboats.
· 32% said after seeing the campaign they’d consider membership, 27% would make a donation, and 24% would volunteer, a previously unheard of uplift for the Trust.
The campaign significantly improved perceptions and relevancy through participation:
· 18,000+ contributions to the poem
· 5.5M views of the final film on YouTube
· 95% said it made them feel positive and proud about National Trust’s work
The campaign also drove visits with the Trust seeing a 23% year on year increase in visits to coastal properties.