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Featured Project

Decadence and restraint: An opulent event with a break even budget objective

Posted: Mon, Mar 17, 2014
Filed under:
Public Relations Marketing Events

Coffs Harbour City Council (CHCC) had not hosted a Mayoral Ball in over a decade. The new Mayor, Cr Denise Knight asked her Economic Development Unit under Jenny Oloman’s leadership to coordinate a Ball to celebrate the City’s achievements and awards.

Jenny’s Unit was temporarily short-staffed, so with 32 days to the event, she sought the assistance of Annie Blair of Big Vision. The band and the venue had been booked and the event date and 1920s/Great Gatsby theme confirmed. 

The rest was up to Annie to coordinate:

  • Generating a list of potential guests and creating a direct mail campaign to drive ticket sales (in some cases invites were hand delivered given the tight time frame);
  • Generating a series of media stunts to drive positive media coverage;
  • Generating a sponsorship offer document and sponsorship revenue to ensure the event broke even, including liaising with sponsors to create media stunts to give them specific exposure;
  • Coordinating theming in three areas of the resort venue;
  • Coordinating table seating plans;
  • Sourcing entertainment and activities such as a live casino;
  • Coordinating with the charity, Ronald McDonald Learning Pathways project;
  • All other event-related activities such as briefing speakers, briefing sponsors and developing and managing the order of proceedings.

In addition to the brief, Annie added some ‘surprise’ elements which delighted the Client:

  • Wait staff in authentic 1920s wait staff costumes;
  • An authentic ‘hat check’ girl to greet guests on arrival;
  • Authentic ‘cigar’ girls to sell chocolates to raise additional funds;
  • Creation of a themed ladies lounge.

We developed a list of over 500 potential guests, drafted three media releases and prepared two media stunts, all of which appeared in press. One stunt, a 1920s window-dress up competition* with two key retailers, even generated TV news coverage on NBN. 

Big Vision approached the sponsorship procurement with the urgency it required – immediately obtaining a list of Council’s top creditors from the accounting department. Working this list generated a surprising source of funds from the commercial and industrial sector, such as Boral who invested thousands in sponsorship and purchased a table for their staff. They were delighted with modest and tasteful corporate branding on the night – logos on cocktail napkins, drinks tags and menus. Similarly, suppliers to Council, Frank Murphy Plumbing, quite unused to attending civic events, threw their support behind the event and attended as sponsors.

The results of the media, sponsorship and direct mail campaign were impressive. On the eve of the Christmas party season, we were still able to secure 150 guests at $150 a ticket. The Mayor enthusiastically declared the Ball an overwhelming success.

Through sound budget management and good community relations (and a series of favours), Annie was able to ensure the event turned a small profit which was donated to the Charity along with other fundraising activities of the night.

Given the Mayor’s delight in the event, the Ball is expected to once again become an annual event. 

What Coffs Harbour City Council Thought 

“You have done an amazing job and I love working with you. I sing your praises everywhere - you have a fan here ready to speak for you anytime.” Ms Oloman, 2013 

Window Dressing Competition
Window Dressing Media Stunt
McDonald\'s Major Sponsor Media Stunt
Publicity Shots
Local Telstra Franchisee sponsored the Casino
Local Boral division sponsored the arrival Gatsby\'s Garden area
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Get in touch with Anne for public relations, marketing, events.
Phone: 0404 293 163