With just five weeks to go, the organisers of Oxford’s first-ever air show, Fly to the Past, asked us to help them increase ticket sales from 2,000 to 10,000.
To get sales moving, we decided to tap into the emotive and nostalgic nature of the show by unearthing some remarkable stories about the people behind the planes taking part, but also Oxford’s aviation history.
Through our research, we uncovered the stories of Molly Rose and Michael Pickin. Molly, born in 1920, is one of only two remaining women who were part of the Air Transport Auxiliary during the Second World War, while Michael was the youngest pilot ever to achieve his aerobatic display licence, at just 17.
Bringing the two generations together, we hosted an open day at Oxford’s Kidlington Airport, during which Molly and Michael worked together to land a Boeing 747 jumbo jet in the airport’s flight simulator. They were joined in the cockpit by local print and broadcast media.
Given the short amount of time to achieve coverage, we hosted a media day at the airport to showcase some of the most interesting stories from the event. From inviting rare aircraft to attend and pilots with interesting stories, to showcasing the economic benefits of the event to both the airport and the city, it allowed the target media to stockpile a large number of stories in one go that they could use in the run up to the event.
With a large number of press in attendance and numerous interviews conducted, we could have rested on our laurels, but we still went in search of more coverage.
The Breitling Wingwalkers, the world’s only aerobatic formation wingwalking troupe, were also on the bill for the air show. Spotting an opportunity to really grab some attention, we dared the breakfast presenters of the Thames Valley's two biggest radio stations, Heart FM and Jack FM, to learn to wingwalk. The challenge was also extended to a plucky journalist from The Oxford Mail. All rose to the challenge, and we secured blanket coverage on both stations throughout the week of the wingwalk and beyond. The local paper also ran pictures from the wing walk on its front page.
Our story-led media relations programme, together with competitions in the local press and features in local business publications, achieved 55 pieces of coverage in just four weeks, with final ticket sales totalling just short of 10,000 – a 385% uplift in what had already been sold before we were drafted in to help.