Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) has hired Veritas Communication as its public relations agency of record in a move that shifts marketing dollars into PR and social media.
Steve Rayment, the gallery’s director of marketing, design and publicity, said the AGO recently implemented a strategic plan that identifies obstacles people face in attending an art gallery, as well as ways to attract new audiences.
Rayment said its core demographic is “the culturally active adult,” a slightly older urban dweller who already attends different cultural events, and is likely already a member.
The three new target groups it has identified are: “the urban cosmopolitan” who is a 25 to 35-year-old urban condo dweller who goes out up to three times a week; members of “the creative industry” who are employed in the design, arts or advertising industry; and “families with kids 14 and under.”
“There was a sense that perhaps children weren’t welcome,” said Rayment. “We want to make sure that we are starting to bring in young people and make sure that they are not uncomfortable with galleries, and that they understand the value of them.”
Research, he said, shows that people find galleries intimidating, and welcoming children through family-friendly initiatives will not only bring in more people, but will also make the gallery less intimidating to the general public.
“It is well known in galleries around the world that there is a sense that ‘If I am not a fine arts graduate or a post grad, then maybe the art gallery isn’t really for me,’” he said. “The AGO is all about connecting people and art and maximizing the visitor experience.”
Its current exhibition, Picasso, launched May 1 and will run until the end of August.
Rayment said that for the first time the gallery has added an audio guide especially for children that explains the art to them by other children. Every child receives an activity bag, and in case of lineups, the gallery has added a separate play and sitting area for kids so they don’t have to wait in line. The café has added a kid-friendly menu.
Endeavour Marketing, the AGO’s agency of record, created a multimedia campaign for the Picasso launch, and Veritas Communications will continue to create a buzz and help grow attendance for this and other major exhibitions.
“This is not new money for us, it’s a diversion of existing marketing dollars, so it’s a calculated risk,” said Rayment.
Krista Webster, president of Veritas Communications, said she is impressed by the value the AGO places on influencer marketing, public relations and social media.
“At Veritas, we influence the influencers by identifying the right brand advocates and reach them through digital, social media and traditional channels,” she said. “The AGO is the perfect embodiment of how to do influencer relations right. They have firmly established themselves within the influential art community, and are now interested in reaching new audiences and driving incremental word-of-mouth.”