Shakespeare Birthplace Trust: Much Ado

The Challenge

To use the launch of the film ‘Anonymous’ to engage with people who have flirted with Shakespeare, bringing his works and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) to the fore of popular culture.

‘Anonymous’, directed by Roland Emmerich and produced by Sony, is famous for its outlandish claim that Shakespeare never wrote a single word of his circa 200-piece cannon.

 

The Idea

On considering the brief it struck us that anyone watching Anonymous, or thinking of seeing it, or writing about it, had to consider the sheer scale of the allegations being made. What about all the pubs named after the Bard? What about the statues in his honour? The road names? The books? What would happen if we could take all this away for just one day?

So, we contacted 45 pubs named after Shakespeare and asked them to cover up their names on the day the film premiered. Next, we removed all trace of Shakespeare from the place he was born. We covered up road signs and even the world-famous Gower Memorial Statue. Warwickshire became an ‘Anonymous’ county.

 

The Results

  • We delivered blanket newspaper coverage, hitting every single UK tabloid and broadsheet
  • BBC Breakfast broadcast live from Shakespeare’s birthplace throughout their morning show.
  • On Sky News, Eammon Holmes asked Rafe Spall, the actor who played Shakespeare, what he thought of our campaign
  • ITN and ITV Central sent correspondents to broadcast live at lunchtime, with packages played on both the teatime and night time news programmes
  • The Guardian hailed the activity as ‘witty’; The Daily Mail labelled the protest ‘clever and sarcastic’
  • International coverage included The Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and New Zealand Herald
  • In the final 12 weeks of that year, SBT witnessed:
    – A 40% increase in visitors
    – A 39% surge in Twitter followers
    – 53,000 ‘Shakespeare Bites Back’ downloads

 

The Awards

  • CIPR PRIDE Awards
    • Not For Profit (gold)
  • Fresh Awards
    • Freshest Media Relations Campaign (gold)
    • Freshest Not for Profit Campaign (gold)