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Exeter City Council - Christmas Lights - Audere Communications

Exeter City Council – Christmas Lights

In the lead up to Christmas 2014, Exeter City Council were seeking sponsorship to help fund the City Centre’s Christmas Lights Festival.


Paying for Christmas Lights is, as we discovered, quite a dilemma.  A very general view of the situation is that:

  • Council budgets around the country are already stretched
  • Many businesses feel they contribute enough to local funding with many of the bigger retailer brands’ CSR activities run by their head offices, leaving local contributions often out of their hands
  • Consumers don’t see why they should pay extra on top of their council taxes.

Yet everyone wants and expects the Christmas Lights to go up, bigger and better than the year before!

Our recommendation was to therefore run a crowdfunding campaign that would engage both local businesses and the Exeter community.

 What did Audere achieve for Exeter City Council?

  • Worked with LMC PR on developing and implementing the campaign strategy
  • Set up a Crowdfunder page that raised over £8,000 in just 28 days
  • Raised over £11,500 in total for the campaign
  • Encouraged local businesses to provide rewards for the Crowdfunder page and make financial donations to the campaign. Rewards included:
    • Visits to a local Spa
    • Meeting the celebrity who was switching on the lights
    • Bee Keeper for the Day
    • Meals at a local restaurant
    • Tickets to see Exeter Chiefs Rugby team and Exeter City Football Club
    • Be a Mascot at an Exeter City football match
    • Feed the Giraffes at Paignton Zoo
    • A tour and meet & greet of the Heart Radio Breakfast show studio
    • Tickets to the Xfactor tour
    • Family visit to the Met Office with a chance to film your own weather report
    • SEO consultancy for local businesses
    • Opportunity to be on stage with the big switch on
    • Local print, online and broadcast PR Coverage

    We’re not going to lie, this was a tough gig, with a lot of learning.  Crowdfunding is not easy!

    It takes a lot of planning, hard work, an enormous amount of encouragement to get people involved and a lot of following up to make it happen, but we are far better for the experience.

    The biggest challenge to this brief was that we didn’t get the approval to start the process until late into September, leaving just two months before the lights were due to be switched on, by which time the major brands have already allocated their sponsorship and CSR budgets.

    Crowdfunding therefore seemed the best approach, but as we quickly discovered, this still takes a lot of time to find rewards to offer and of course, you then need make the public aware its happening.

    To achieve the aim we:

    • Approached local businesses by phone, email and personal visits (including walking the length and bredth of Exeter High Street, The Apprentice style) to drive rewards and donations
    • Managed the crowdfuding process
    • Generated local PR to drive traffic to the crowdfunding page with coverage achieved on local media including Express & Echo; Exeter Daily; The Best of Exeter, Mid Devon Star, and Radio Exe, as well as discussion on the @Devon_Hour weekly twitter chat, plus the campaign was listed as Crowdfunder’s own featured project with a supporting blog post (see sample of screenshots below)
    • Arranged a ‘pop-up’ shop opportunity within the local Barclays branch

    expressandecho  middevon   exeterdailycrwodfunderradioexe