M.S.I. CHICAGO'S 'MONTH AT THE MUSEUM'
Museums are always looking to boost awareness and patronage, usually without much money to do either. So a social, crowd-sourced guerrilla campaign can make sound economic sense—assuming the institution is willing to take a risk. This past July, Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, seeking to juice up its staid image and put on a fresh public face, decided that it was.
Baiting digitally savvy members of the public, the 77-year-old establishment, working with its agency, Hoffman York, promised the chance to spend a "Month at the Museum"—as in, actually living there in a hotel-style room complete with meals. The winner would become a tweeting, Facebooking, YouTubing, Flickering human exhibit (and get $10K for the effort). "We were thinking of this person as an ambassador," says museum CMO Rob Gallas, "a mirror that will reflect all of the energy and things that go on here."
While expecting maybe 150 to 200 entries—which had to include essays and videos—Gallas was inundated with more than 1,500 applications worldwide. The program has landed in more than 400 blogs, almost doubled the Facebook fan base and has drawn in local TV and radio, along with ABC's Good Morning America and other national shows. "It's been hotter than the Titanic or the Harry Potter exhibits," Gallas adds.
The winner (with 20,000 votes via online balloting) was a 24-year-old teacher from the North Side—who's just moved in as we go to press. She's already made it clear that she plans to spend one night inside the museum's WWII-era German submarine.
Brand: The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry
Agency: Hoffman York, Chicago
Objective: Fetch younger, Web-savvy fans for this 77-year-old museum
Payoff (So far): Local and national TV traditional media exposure; "record" traffic to Web site
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