In recreating the iconic Ben 10 Rust Bucket and building a programme of related activities, Tin Man created a genuinely experiential and immersive event which attached to both young children and their parents. Their creativity and commitment overcame the logistical challenges presented by location and reluctant third-party suppliers. Sheer determination helped them to single-handedly manage an event which delivered demonstrable results, and a partnership which enabled them to be the best agent for the job.
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Brief and objectives:
Tin Man was briefed to increase awareness and drive tune-in for animated Cartoon Network series Ben 10, featuring 10-year-old character Ben Tennyson who transforms into aliens whilst saving the world on holiday with his family in their infamous ‘Rust Bucket’ motorhome (the equivalent to Batman’s Batmobile!).
- Engage 6-12-year-old boys and girls and their parents
- Generate national, consumer, regional and broadcast media coverage
- Increase ratings.
Rationale behind event, including research and planning:
It’s notoriously difficult to get mainstream cut-through for animated TV shows. Seen as commercial competitors by other media, editorial coverage is tricky. Plus the usual route for promoting TV properties – big one-off stunts – can be one dimensional and risky.
To target boys and girls aged 6-12 AND their parents, we needed something clever and interactive that would resonate with both audiences. To make it memorable we wanted to celebrate iconic elements from the show – and we needed more than a stunt.
With 72% of mums in employment, weekends and holidays are special. Memorable, ‘one of a kind’ experiences index highly amongst this audience.
This insight chimed well with the show theme of ‘family time’ – plus the launch date was just before October half term. We also knew the most iconic part of the show was the Rust Bucket motorhome – a giant, slightly battered, alien-spotting vehicle in which all of Ben’s adventures happen.
We started thinking: What if we were able to literally take Ben 10 off the screen and into our audiences’ lives?
Strategy and tactics, including creativity and innovation:
Our strategy was to make the Ben 10 brand part of precious family moments by recreating the show’s iconic vehicle – the Rust Bucket motorhome – and offering it to families as an exciting and quirky half-term holiday rental.
So far so good. However, we still needed the ‘Tin Man twist’ – the element that makes it truly memorable. This came through our negotiation of an exclusive partnership with Airbnb, listing the Rust Bucket as a money-can’t-buy half-term accommodation on their website, viewed by millions of users every day. This was Airbnb’s first ever UK brand partnership – quite the coup!
Ambitious, yes, but strategically spot on. Here’s how we did it.
Implementation of tactics, including details of design, production and support teams employed:
We enlisted a specialist design team to build an exact replica of the Rust Bucket, complete with quirky alien-spotting technology and gadgets. Whilst you and I might not know the intricate details of the Rust Bucket – a 10 year-old boy would! So detail was everything, from the interior décor and posters to the intergalactic-explorerscope and Ben’s favourite food in the fridge. Clothing belonging to key characters was even hanging in the wardrobe. Every element was brought to life for fans to enjoy.
We recruited adventurer (and Ben 10 namesake!) Ben Fogle along with his 7-year-old son Ludo (a big fan) to be our first guests and ran a launch photocall, documenting their visit on social media via engaging video content.
We even thought strategically about the location. We chose Rendlesham Forest – the UK’s biggest UFO hotspot to tie in with the extra-terrestrial premise of the show.
First, key parenting bloggers were invited to stay over with their kids to preview the new series and further promote the alternative half-term holiday experience. They loved it!
Hundreds of families with little alien enthusiasts then applied for a stay in the iconic vehicle before five were chosen and treated to a stay jam-packed full of activities.
Now we had perfected the engagement element, we needed our brand messages to go far and wide. We developed a robust media and content strategy:
- Images, video content, social support and interviews with Ben Fogle and son Ludo
- Bespoke accommodation listing on Airbnb
- Blogger previews and video diaries
- National news story with exclusive and regional angles
- Broadcast interviews
- 360 video content for YouTube
To amplify the launch day buzz, we developed a news story looking at the activities parents think their kids want to do during half-term compared to what they actually want to do.
Results revealed simple pleasures like camping and caravanning rather than five star resorts and expensive meals were preferred – setting the context for our ‘back to basics’ Rust Bucket activity perfectly.
Measurement and evaluation:
Did we engage 6-12 year old boys and girls and their parents with the new series?
- Awareness of the new series increased from 15.67% pre-campaign to 37.6% post campaign – an increase of 140%
- 36% of parents saw the Ben 10 launch coverage
- Over 200 families entered the Airbnb competition.
Did we generate national, consumer, regional and broadcast media coverage?
- 445 pieces of press coverage. 10 nationals, a 7-minute interview on Sky News Sunrise, 10 head-to-head interviews with regional stations and a syndication to a further 161 stations
- 89% of coverage included tune-in details and 96% included key messaging
- Coverage also appeared on Primary Times, First News, Entertain the Kids, Father’s Quarterly, Female First parenting, Huffington Post Parents
- Over 45,000 organic views of video content on YouTube channel (with no paid for support)
- ROI: 9:1.
Did it increase ratings?
- Ben 10 was the #1 show on Cartoon Network during launch weekend
- Ratings increased by 343% (compared with the same time, the previous week)
- A like-for-like comparison with the previous series showed an overall increase in viewership of 117% generally, and 132% for boys specifically.
Why should we win?
We could have floated something down the Thames, projected something onto a building or taken something on the tube – this might have delivered lots of coverage but it wouldn’t have reached the ‘sweet spot’ of school aged kids.
Instead, this campaign tapped into a real parenting truth – the importance of family time and having fun with the kids. It emotionally engaged these audiences via a fully integrated creative, campaign that also delivered commercially.
Budget and cost effectiveness:
Total budget: £100,000. Our packed programme meant that every penny mattered. We negotiated every third party cost, left no media opportunity stone unturned, delivered an awareness uplift of 140% and ratings increase of 343% with an ROI of 9:1. Happy days.