We were asked by the Board and the Trustees of Ascot Racecourse to take on the considerable challenge of restoring the health of the Ascot brand in September 2012, at the end of a year in which overall attendance had fallen by almost 50,000 people. This was despite the ‘Jubilee Fever’ which had gripped the nation, and which followed every public engagement of Her Royal Highness The Queen throughout the summer.
Indeed, during the five days of Royal Ascot in June 2012 ticket sales fell by 5% compared to the previous year, even after a considerable additional investment in media and advertising. Our task was to build the brand value and engage audiences at every customer touch point, whilst also driving short-term responses, ticket sales, and commercial revenues.
Ascot appeared to have lost confidence in their brand and the relative attractiveness of their race days and themed events to customers and prospects. Their online and off-line advertising had become crowded with images and copy, reminiscent of magazine covers.
We compared Ascot’s communications to other aspirational British brands, a process which helped to confirm our own assumptions that Ascot had to say less in order to convey more.
A brand like Ascot doesn’t need to try too hard. We just need to build layers of charm and quality to a well established platform.
We created a new communications style and templates for every channel and touchpoint, as a platform for the whole year. Outbound communications and propositions were developed to fit perfectly with their intended audiences, standing out from the crowd through their simplicity and clarity, and conveying exclusivity, quality, and subtle humour where required.
At the time of writing, and in just 9 months of 2013, we’ve successfully repositioned and redesigned all of Ascot’s communications so that they properly enshrine the values of the organisation. In the first 6 months of the year attendance figures were up by 13% compared to 2012.
And at Royal Ascot in June, attendance rose by just over 2% on the week (Tuesday-Friday), with a sell-out crowd of 73,000 on the Saturday. These increases came despite Ascot’s decision to reduce the capacity in the Grandstand and Silver Ring, and to increase the ticket price bands across all three enclosures.
The advertising is receiving praise from around the world, with more than 1,500 unprompted ‘likes’ registered on Facebook when the Royal campaign was first posted. And we’ve ensured that the supporting communications are equally stunning, with every piece meticulously planned to build excitement and anticipation.
“Attendances have been very pleasing over the week, with increases every day apart from today (Saturday) primarily because the Silver Ring capacity has been reduced from 24,000 to 20,000 with comfort in mind. Hospitality has also been strong and spend has been up over the week.”