At a time when the arts receive just 1% of charitable donations, the Art Fund has grown its membership and revenue significantly. We brought art closer to the masses with a new proposition of over 100 location-specific creative executions, which in turn, delivered strong ROI on marketing investment & incremental profit increases.

The Brief

People struggled to see past the internationally famous museums and galleries, such as The TATE, and as the majority of these offer free entry, the National Art Pass benefits were less compelling. By contrast, awareness of “hidden gems” such as The Cartoon Museum and the Courtauld Gallery was significantly lower. People were “sleepwalking past art”. Our brief was to use media to open their eyes to the gems that surrounded them.

What we did

We advertised the location of the great works to drive attendance.

Launching advertising in outdoor, press and digital, we worked alongside PR to drive awareness of the National Art Pass under the umbrella of our organising idea, Never Without Art. All media was placed in or around relevant art editorial (apart from front page premium placements). We made the pass itself the hero of the activity and devised a weekend-long promotion with The Guardian and Observer, our prospects’ newspaper brands of choice. The activity centred around a weekend promotion offering a free 3-month ‘trial version’ of the Pass. Multi-platform activity drove people online to sign up for the trial.

We created a bespoke hub on the Guardian’s Culture site called Art Weekly. This housed information, critiques, art guides and gallery recommendations designed to inspire a life with art. This was promoted across all Guardian platforms, including print, online and social. We also created a joint newsletter that went out to the Guardian’s own art audience segment the ‘culture vultures’ – also called Art Weekly. This partnership was so successful that the Guardian continue to produce this today – even without any funding from the Art Fund.

Working closely with TFL, we produced 100 creative executions across more than 430 sites and developed a media approach that allowed us to tailor each ad to its location – referencing how close people were to intriguing works of art, in steps, stops or minutes. Whilst we didn’t expect people to change their plans and visit these venues straight away, the work was designed to drive response and we included a prominent call to action (Search: National Art Pass) to drive people online to find out more about the National Art Pass and what was on around them.

The Results

1. The impact on memberships
New memberships more than doubled in the first year after the launch of the National Art Pass and by 2015 were 174% higher than in 2010. These new memberships have driven a 60% increase in total memberships between 2010 and 2015.

2. The impact on revenue and costs
The revenue generated from memberships (or National Art Pass sales from 2011) has increased by 85% in five years. The media strategy and creative approach has also seen the cost per acquisition improve by nearly 15% since 2011.

The Art Fund has been able to increase the cost of an individual membership (the most popular option) by 28% in five years, at a time of deflation.

Case Studies

Foo Fighters

Rock ‘n’ roll ain’t gonna die

view detail

Ed Sheeran

Launch of his third album – Divide.

view detail


Current Account Switch Service (CASS) - Switch Your Situation

view detail


All Star Driving School with Suzuki Ignis

view detail