Haggis, Bagpipes and Caber-Tossing: Relaunching the St. Louis Scottish Games
In early 2010, the St. Louis Scottish Games relaunched after a two-year hiatus. This volunteer-run event features the best of Scottish culture, music, athletics, food, and more, in a family-friendly environment. The challenges: a dated website, no social media presence, limited local news coverage, and no budget outside of actual advertising. Mark Sutherland, a native Scot and chief communications officer of Elasticity, took up the challenge.
Employing a multifaceted strategy, Mark exploited the traditional Scottish brands of bagpipes, haggis, caber-tossing and sword-fighting in presenting the games to the St. Louis community.
For television and radio, he took the games to them. Utilizing a volunteer team of professional sword fighters, bagpipers, athletes and Scottish chefs, he made sure the interviews were ones never forgotten. From sword fights, to cooking demonstrations, to haggis-tasting, and more, the in-studio antics encouraged people to continue the experience in person, at the Scottish Games.
Advertising was strategically purchased to reach the target audience, and concentrated on the week leading up to the games. A radio station’s generous donation of public-service announcements gave the games a heavy promotional presence. A billboard was added in 2012 at a discounted rate.
We took the website through a complete overhaul, cutting down on pages, integrating social media, and simplifying navigation so people could find the information they needed quickly. In 2012, the ability to buy tickets in advance via Paypal was added.
On social media, the efforts started from nothing. Concentrating on Facebook and Twitter, we devised a strategy of promoting Scotland, and Scotland in St. Louis, throughout the year. Videos from past games were posted, photos shared, news stories published, and everything Scottish was promoted.
The results have been impressive over the past few years:
- Television, radio and news coverage in the St. Louis area
- A steady increase in event attendance
- An increase of more than 600 percent in Facebook fans since the 2010 Scottish Games
- Ongoing social connectivity on Facebook and Twitter
- Organic requests for “Scottish” culture on television and radio, allowing additional promotion of the games