What Can We Learn From The Big Hoot?

Digital Glue’s MD, Javan Bramhall, discusses what we can learn from The Big Hoot 2015.

The dust has only just settled on the auction of 85 giant owls, which raised over £500,000 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital. It’s also worth considering how much money has been raised by the sponsorship of owls by businesses in the first instance, the donating through the Text service advertised on each owl and even the ‘last chance to see the owls’ event at Millennium Point this weekend just gone.

By any measure, the Big Hoot has been an astonishing success, and Birmingham Children’s Hospital, an organisation which deserves and needs every penny it can raise for the astonishing work it does (a small personal experience of this recently only backs this belief up), can be immensely proud of what it’s achieved.

Throughout the campaign I’ve been continually impressed by the detail which has made it so successful. All the opportunities have been leveraged and while it has benefited, the city of Birmingham has benefited.

It got me thinking, what are the elements that have made it so successful?

Involve the community at the outset

Schools and community organisations were involved in designing and painting many of the smaller owls on show throughout the city as well as some of the larger owls. That meant that the communities involved had a sense of ownership. They wanted to take their families and friends to see their owl and invariably other owls.

Involve the business community

Whether through asking for sponsorship of owls to fund owls in the first instance, or by providing businesses and business regions to invest in having owls in their centre to encourage footfall, or simply by placing owls in business locations around town, business has been at the heart of it. When multiple businesses get involved in a project, the marketing might is expanded, the reach is greater. Which business wasn’t tweeting about the Big Hoot?

Think Win Win

Overlapping with the previous point perhaps, but there is no doubt the Big Hoot benefited many people. The Edwards Trust had a specific Owl that raised money for them, the shops and business regions involved saw increased footfall as people visited the Owls to scan in the code on their app and take selfies with the owls. The whole program was designed to help not just the hospital but the wider community, without that thinking from the outset, it simply wouldn’t have been such a success.

Plan, Plan, Plan and plan some more

When you’re working on a marketing plan (and I apply this to the blog because I understand it), the more you think through how a process is going to work for the ‘customer’ the more complete and successful your marketing becomes. Whether that’s all the elements of a direct mail campaign, the user experience flow on a website design or the way in which customers will interact with a sales process, you can rarely plan enough.

The Big Hoot had it all planned. You had the printed guides and map, you had the app, you could donate at an owl, you could download the app from an owl, you can buy Big Hoot merchandise…the list goes on.

It’s a wonderful example of a fundraising campaign done brilliantly. We know that Birmingham Children’s Hospital and the children and families they help will have benefited and will benefit from it, but the city of Birmingham has also benefited.

To illustrate this point, a friend of mine who now lives and works in London, visited Birmingham specifically to take part in some Owl hunting and a pub crawl with friends.

Well done to all involved

I’m interested to know what others would take from it?



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