Since Paddington the bear came into the world in October 1958 through the book named ‘A Bear Called Paddington’, it has stayed close to us in various forms: souvenirs, TV commercials and programmes, and movies. Now, during the last two months of this year we can even meet the bear greeting us at physical locations around London.
From 4th November to 30th December, visitors to London can see more than 50 Paddington statues along the Paddington Trail. Every statue has different designs signed by worldwide celebrities, designers and artists including Benedict Cumberbatch, Emma Watson, David Beckham, Boris Johnson, Stephen Fry.
This event is a result of partnerships among Studio Canal, which is a movie distribution company for Paddington, VisitBritain and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). It is in the part of Great Britain Campaign* which the UK Government has executed to promote various sectors in the UK. The Paddington Trail is specifically to improve Tourism industry within the campaign.
It is obvious VisitBritain would not have wanted to miss the opportunity to use Paddington as a main content for Tourism marketing, since Paddington Bear possesses a lot of attachments to the iconic features of London and the UK, such as Paddington Station, Portobello Road, and Marmalade. This also makes the fictional character seem to be a real figure, which contributes to an effort to create closer engagement with target customers. According to an article from The Drum, “Joss Croft, marketing director at VisitBritain said: ‘This film is a huge opportunity that we really could not let slip through our paws. The power of set-jetting is an important element in driving incremental tourism with the right film acting as free advertising, so we do all we can to capitalise on that. The film demonstrates the warm welcome that Britain delivers to all our visitors – albeit in this case an ursine Peruvian’ … ‘We have worked closely with StudioCanal from the outset and have even agreed an element of product placement for the Great campaign. Paddington Bear is popular all over the world with people of all ages, giving us the opportunity to inspire a wider pool of visitors to come in greater numbers and to spend more money across the whole of Britain’.”
[Paddington – Official International Trailer]
For Studio Canal, this promotional event was also appealing in that their movie Paddington would be released in 2 weeks in the UK cinemas. By having a designated web page for Paddington at VISITLONDON, the company can also have advantages of increasing traffics to the site and brand awareness of the movie. The social media marketing using a hashtag #PaddingtonTrail – to win a limited number of goody bags with Paddington treats and vouchers from Selfridges – also gives an opportunity of becoming viral.
The other partner the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) benefits from the campaign as well, throughout donations and auctions of the Paddington statues. The label boards in front of the Paddington statues introduce how to donate to NSPCC as well as a rather emotional description “Paddington was found by Mr. and Mrs. Brown who gave him love and a safe place to grow up – something every child deserves.” Via Hertfordshire Mercury the CEO of the NSPCC, Peter Wanless commented that “In the Paddington stories, Aunt Lucy implored Londoners to ‘please look after this bear’ and we’ll be giving people the chance to do just that when the statues are auctioned off later in the year in support of our ChildLine service.”
This huge campaign is a really brilliant idea because it satisfies the needs and the goals for every involved party, as well as it not only provides fun memories but also throws digitally interactive and socially meaningful actions to both domestic and international tourists.
Related links and sources:
* The GREAT Britain campaign ‘showcases the very best of what Britain has to offer. We welcome the world to visit, study and do business with the UK’. (GOV.UK – Britain is Great)
– VisitGreatBritain (2014) “GREAT ads to feature in Paddington film“ (The link not available as of Aug. 2016)
– London & Partners (2014) “International celebrities, designers and artists to lend their artistic talents to the London Paddington Trail“
– Hertfordshire Mercury (2014) “Ben Whishaw-designed Paddington Bear on display” (The link not available as of Jan 2018)