We knew that one advertising campaign would not do the job and excite people everywhere. With very different target groups and a long history of negative media coverage, the job was too big to narrow it down to one image campaign with a single message. Therefore, we created a turnaround communication campaign which we based solely on emotional experiences. Because after all, you don’t fall in love with somebody simply because you are told to, right? It needs more than that. You have to have your own experiences to be convinced. Step by step. And that is exactly what we did. We created a series of on- and offline experiences and worked our way from the outside of the building all the way into the grand hall, thereby utilising all of our content assets at hand to communicate via PR: spectacular architecture, great music and the beautiful city of Hamburg.
With only a very small media budget at hand, we needed to design experiences and content which not only positively amazed the people but also the international media. Therefore, everything needed to be PR-compatible. And we had to create content with a perfect fit for our owned digital and social media channels in order to create impact in our designated markets.
Accordingly, we looked at our content from a two-way perspective: from what happened in front the camera as an emotional experience as well as how to use this content for the media. With an individual PR network in 12 countries and a content hub in Hamburg, we were able to create, develop and deliver our content to every journalist, influencer and multiplier. With storytelling and live experiences at the core of the campaign, we got the media and the people involved and turned opinion around.
Within a year we created a media reach of 22 billion contacts and more than 50,000 media reports. Moreover, all concerts are sold out and with 3 million visitors in less than ten months, the Elbphilharmonie even outnumbered Germany’s tourist magnet Neuschwanstein Castle. Hamburg’s tourist numbers climbed to new record levels.
More than 5.7 million users enjoyed the drone rides, spending an average of more than 3.5 minutes on our Web Special. In social media we managed a community growth from 18,000 to 205,000 followers in 12 months, with interaction rates of up to 10%.
The Grand Opening was a trending topic on Twitter. All major news networks and magazines, including the BBC, CNN, the New York Times and Le Figaro etc. covered the event. TV channels reported live. Our content was widely picked up by the news and was used as media collateral in news coverage about the Elbphilharmonie.
With overall costs of up to 800 million euros and massive public criticism due to construction delays, court trials, cost increases, etc., the question of how to manage a turnaround in public opinion of the Elbphilharmonie to create a true love story arose. Particularly in times when public spending is under constraints and complex construction faces numerous challenges, the case of the Elbphilharmonie demonstrates how you need to get people involved and convinced to create a positive mind shift with a project of this magnitude and such a negative history.
We had to address three different target groups, all with a different history and knowledge background:
1. People of Hamburg: they were involved the most in the construction nightmare and had the most intense relationship and were the most important target group.
2. The rest of Germany: mocking and joking about Hamburg and its apparent inability to build the Elbphilharmonie.
3. Rest of the world: the Elbphilharmonie intends to become one of the top 10 concert halls in the world. So we were not only talking to people in Hamburg and Germany but everybody everywhere.
To excite all these target groups we started our multi-channel campaign on the “outside” of the building, went “inside” and then “through” the Elbphilharmonie, while highlighting and staging all of its assets in our storytelling. Over the course of 12 months we got closer and closer and let people discover and experience their own Elbphilharmonie.