Many families look for ways to celebrate the holidays in new and unique ways. Those same families may have annual traditions. This past year, nearly 420,000 people visited Global Winter Wonderland off Great America Parkway in Santa Clara and added a new experience to their holiday checklist. That’s right – over 400K in just 27 days. Most of this was thanks to a marketing campaign, which we played a huge part in.Tam Communications teamed with the International Culture Exchange Group producing television and radio commercials, creating two dozen viral videos, managing social media campaigns and handling web work to spread the word about the United States premier of the Chinese Lantern Festival. We worked with our media partners to deliver promotional programs and even edited press releases. And since this event was targeted at a multi-ethnic audience, we also worked closely with other agencies that took our work and translated it into Chinese, Spanish, and other languages. We also produced the Opening Ceremonies, the press preview, and other events. I was also the media spokesperson and was interviewed by a number of television stations. We even worked with the 49ers Total Access team and had Joe Fonzi and Melissa Galvin hosts on-site for their stand-ups (Check out Show #16). Needless to say, we were busy bees.
Why was the marketing so important? If you didn’t go to the event, ask yourself what would be your image of a Chinese lantern? Prior to the event, my own concept (shared by a lot of others) was what you might see hung outside a Chinese restaurant–typically round, red and maybe a little more than a foot in diameter. This Festival showed us that Chinese lanterns can be much, much more than that so capturing the imagination of the Bay Area and getting them to Santa Clara was critical to the Festival’s success.
Just about every structure on the six plus area Festival grounds was a Chinese lantern. Along with playful holiday displays, Global Winter Wonderland also featured landmarks from around the world including the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Pyramid of Chichen-Itza. Some of these structures towered 50 feet high while others spanned 100 feet. And many of the lanterns were green—not just in color but in the materials used. Plastic and glass bottles, CDs and DVDs, and other materials were used in construction. And most of the structures used energy efficient LED lights. The Fortune God was lit by a solar panel. In addition to these structures there was also a Dinosaur Maze along with food, entertainment, and carnival rides and games.
Complicating the marketing challenge was that this was the U.S. debut of the Festival. Since there was very little video to work with and we had to be on-air before the event opened and before the Festival Grounds were even constructed, producing the commercials was more than a little challenging. We met the challenge by bringing our cast into the studio and shooting them on green screen and then compositing them against what little video did exist along with stills and animated backgrounds. It made for a fun casting session and shoot with our multi-generational cast having to pretend like they were being amazed by all the beautiful scenes or enjoying clowns and magicians or being scared by towering dinosaur animatronics. But our cast stepped up and delivered great performances all around.
As with any first-time event, there were definitely lessons learned and areas for improvement but without a great marketing campaign there wouldn’t be a 2012 edition of Global Winter Wonderland.