The Oregon State Fair dates back to 1861, making it a classic legacy brand. As with many fairs, attendance and revenue was in decline, owing to shifting tastes and increased competition for the entertainment dollar. Trooper was hired to handle all public-facing communications in an effort to help reverse the downward trend. The primary challenge? Restore the fair’s relevance.
This fair was an independent state agency for many decades, and then was folded into the Oregon Parks & Recreation Department from 2007 to 2013. The Oregon Legislature made the Fair a public corporation in 2014, though the Fair was not fully independent until 2015. Four obstacles confronted the 2015 edition: 1) A pre-fair summer heat wave and a worm invasion ravaged fairgrounds grass. 2) Portland Public Schools opened a week earlier than normal, colliding with fair dates. 3) A summer-ending windstorm hit the fair on its second day. 4) The concert starring classic rocker Pat Benatar was cancelled just days before the fair opened.
Step one for Trooper was assembling a team of 15 experts representing key disciplines. Step two was developing a creative strategy that honored the fair’s audiences by embracing a unique tone and style. Companion to that was a messaging strategy that explored the personal relationship folks have with the concept of fun. The campaign theme—Crazy Fun Since Day One—came to life on TV, radio, billboards, digital ads, the web site, social media and supporting media.
Paid fair attendance (aka, unique visits) increased 18.8% versus 2014. Also, news coverage grew by 120%. Other key metrics had to do with revenue to the fair:
- Food & Beverage increased 18%
- Parking increased 20%
- Carnival increased 20%
- Sponsorship increased 29%