We built Brick City!

Melissa Reilly, Marketing and PR Officer at New Lanark World Heritage Site, writes for SHSMG in the latest blog. 

New Lanark is an 18th century former cotton-spinning Mill Village on the banks of the Falls of Clyde, which is now recognised as one of Scotland’s 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

There are some very exciting developments taking place within New Lanark at the moment, including the development of a new Exhibitions Gallery to host a series of prominent touring exhibitions throughout the year through our new Exhibitions Programme. Watch this space in January 2018!

Brick City Logo

Our foray into hosting large-scale exhibitions began in earnest earlier this year with Brick City, which we hosted from 28th June – 13th September 2017. Brick City is an exhibition of over 60 models created using an estimated half a million LEGO Bricks, created by LEGO Brick Artist Warren Elsmore. The exhibition was hugely successful, attracting 20,000 visitors during the 11-week period. The exhibition was ALSO a huge learning curve, in terms of logistics and its associated marketing campaign – giving us a number of learnings to take forward with our future exhibitions.

I’m very proud to say that our marketing campaign, which was co-ordinated internally by myself, has been shortlisted as a Finalist for the Marketing Award at the ASVA 2017 Awards (Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions). New Lanark is up against the National Museums Scotland – ‘On the trail of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites’ (a joint campaign with HES, Royal Collection Trust (Palace of Holyroodhouse), NMS and NTS) and RZSS Edinburgh Zoo – ‘Have you seen our cats?’ campaign.

Brick City Royal Family
Brick City Royal Family


As Brick City was focussed around the popular toy of LEGO, and we were hosting the exhibition during the school holidays, the ideal audience for the exhibition was young families and grandparents living within around 30 miles of New Lanark.

This is a target audience we’re very familiar with as in the past New Lanark has hosted a number of family focussed events such as Easter, Halloween, Stargazing, The Big Picnic and annual Christmas events, which regularly attract 8k+ visitors each December.

The strategy for marketing Brick City was to continue with, and enhance our tried and tested marketing activities. A multi-channel campaign used an effective combination of digital marketing, social media, radio, PR, blogger engagement and print advertising / distribution.

The timeline for the marketing campaign began in September 2016, almost a year before the exhibition opening date. This allowed us to start raising awareness and building excitement about the exhibition – planting the seed for ticket purchasers.

Prior to the exhibition installation our only promotional material was a selection stock images provided by the exhibition developers. This meant we had to use these images in innovative ways! We created a series of short and dynamic videos to bring the still images to life. Our video content achieved the combined viewing figure of almost a quarter of a million views Facebook (232,700), YouTube (2,993) and Twitter (6,422).

We also used the images to create fun competitions and drive audience engagement. This included a weekly Facebook competition ‘Brick City Bingo’ where users had to select a numbered model to win tickets at attend the exhibition.

Brick City Bingo
Brick City bingo

At the beginning of 2016 we launched a Facebook competition for users to name our two new LEGO Minifigs. Online voting took place and the final winning entry named the figures ‘Dale and Millie’ (After David Dale and the New Lanark Mills).


Once the exhibition opened we undertook creative photography with a professional photographer. These images featured the characters of Robert Owen and Annie McLeod visiting the exhibition from the past. This formed an effective PR hook to link New Lanark and Brick City.

Robert and Annie
Robert and Annie

Results from our post-visit survey showed that 49% of respondents heard about Brick City through Facebook. The next highest categories were the New Lanark website (12%) and What’s On Lanarkshire website (5%). This clear steering towards online channels as the means through which visitors heard about Brick City shows that this digital marketing campaign was extremely effective.

This is also echoed in the Google Analytics stats which show that 15% of visits to the Brick City web page were direct referral traffic from Facebook. This is a top referrer to the page second only to Google Organic Searches, which account for 49% of traffic.

We have learned a number of positive lessons from evaluating the Brick City marketing campaign and the results of our survey.  Analysis of the visitor numbers shows that the most popular ticket type was the ‘Family ticket’ and that July was the most popular month of the exhibition, showing that this type of exhibition should be held during periods when families are available (summer holidays etc) and that the associated marketing campaign should focus on the price benefits of a Family Ticket and what is included.

We have also seen the powerful impact that small-scale and low budget ideas can have if they are innovative and quirky. Video marketing and competitions, especially on social media channels such as Facebook are a fun way to build engagement with audiences as well as driving ticket sales. We will take this learning forward by incorporating video and competitions into our future marketing campaigns.

Marketing of the Brick City exhibition has also taken us on a steep learning curve. Our survey results have shown that the Net Promoter ® Score for the exhibition was -27.9 which means that 55% of survey respondents would not recommend it to a friend (detractors), 16.89% were passive and 27.61% would recommend it to a friend (promoters). From analysis of the verbatim comments left by detractors it is clear that one of the common reasons they rated the exhibition negatively was that the exhibition did not meet their expectations, based on the marketing.

We are now more aware of how to balance the content of the exhibition with the marketing campaign. We now know that we need to experience in person all future exhibitions before adding them to our programme. This will enable us to ensure that the marketing campaign does not raise expectations too highly. Future campaigns will include the use of ‘real’ photography within all marketing materials and we will be careful with the use of the phrase ‘day out’ within copy as consumers take this to mean they will fill a full day with the activity.

We’ve also probably seen enough LEGO Bricks to last a lifetime! J

Keep an eye on New Lanark’s website www.newlanark.org and social media channels for news of our upcoming Exhibitions and Events!

Melissa Reilly

New Lanark Marketing and PR Officer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s