THE LOVIE AWARDS SUBMISSION Advertising - Best Integrated Campaign

Moving to Mars

European Museum of the Year winner 2018, the Design Museum in London reaches new audiences and brings Mars down to Earth.


Children born today are the first who might witness a human mission to Mars in their lifetime. It’s one of humanity's great challenges and everything will need to be designed. But should we even be going?

This blockbuster exhibition at the Design Museum in London ran from October 2019 to February 2020. Audiences were invited to step into a full-scale Mars home, immersing themselves in the untouched beauty of the Martian landscape - without leaving London.

What was their verdict?

The Design Museum

An independent charity registered in England, the Design Museum's purpose is to make the impact of design visible. Since moving to its new home on London's High Street Kensington in November 2016 it has welcomed over 2.1 million visitors.

The campaign

Entering this new thematic show the audience had no prior knowledge of what they would experience once inside. Such a unique opportunity gave the museum’s marketing team a blank canvas upon which they delivered a fully integrated digital advertising, social media, out-of-home, print and guerrilla marketing campaign.

How would they convince the public that this was an experience worth their time and money? The strategy was simple. Produce consistent, quality content across all touchpoints to drive engaging, cross-generational appeal.

Central to the digital campaign was a trailer highlighting the top five things to do in the exhibition.

Generation Mars

As part of an extensive online search and display campaign, over 2 million impressions of 6-second bumper ads were served to Google Video & Display 360 3rd party data sets. These ads featured the #GenerationMars hashtag, used throughout the campaign to highlight the topic’s relevance to a younger audience.

Pop-up Mars Estate Agency

The team produced a range of guerrilla marketing initiatives to spark Londoners' curiosity. A pop-up Mars Estate Agency was opened in Soho, giving the press and members of the public their first taste of the concept. Advanced-sale "Pioneer" tickets could be purchased at the pop-up.

Influencers with a combined 1 million followers were invited to an event at the pop-up, where they made hydroponic salads and shared these via their IG stories.

Take the whole family to Mars

The exhibition ran across the school holidays making families a key audience. Parents were targeted with a quirky Mars baggage reclaim video on Instagram and Facebook.

Family Trail

The team also got creative with Instagram Stories to recreate a digital 'paper' Family Trail - as an Instagram Experience. The highlighted Story featured animations by Petter Scholander and videos with astronaut Tim Peake, Professor Sanjeev Gupta from Imperial College London, Astronomer Royal Martin Rees and climate activist Venetia Falconer.

As a result of the family-focussed digital campaign, they accounted for 38% of admissions income, compared to the average of under 3% for Design Museum exhibitions.

Ready for lift-off?

To encourage advance sales, a paid Facebook and Instagram campaign included targeting fans of NASA, Elon Musk, The Expanse (TV Series) and the European Space Agency. Sponsored Stories were promoted to London cultural audiences and exhibition enthusiasts. After opening, these ads were reactivated with press quotes.

The paid social campaign delivered 7,934,310 impressions, with a total reach of 1,845,235 unique users and an ROI of 233%.

What to pack?

A paid Instagram partnership was set up with Cosmopolitan ‘Travel Influencer of the Year’ Beth Sandland, who produced a series of ‘What To Pack For Mars’ videos, recorded in India’s Thar desert.

Beth trialled a sleepover experience at the museum which was promoted as a competition on Instagram. The lucky winner would enjoy a private tour for two with curator Ely Watson. Also included were dinner in the atrium, a screening of the film The Martian and a night inside a space pod wearing a pair of RÆBURN jammies on an Eve Sleep bed.

Sleepover on Mars

On 18 January 2020 two lucky visitors slept in the Mars pod by HASSELL in the exhibition. The competition was promoted through the museum's digital channels and in partnership with Secret London and Beth Sandland.

Unboxing Mars

To generate interest ahead of the exhibition preview, Instagram micro-influencers were mailed Mars packs which included their flight ticket to the exhibition.

The ticket activated a discount code for themselves and their followers for the first two weeks of the exhibition. This campaign generated some of the cutest images.

Bringing Mars to the streets of London

The highly targeted approach of the digital campaign was transferred to the Out of Home strategy too. A high-impact underground and roadside campaign was booked in Greater London and key SW and W London postcodes, as identified through audience research. It featured the core creative - an astronaut and space dog running for the bus on Mars.

The outdoor campaign delivered the biggest increase in bookings from the targeted postcodes, a total of 48 million impacts, reaching over 3 million Londoners.

Meet the world's youngest astronaut

18-year old Alyssa Carson is the world’s youngest astronaut in training and a Future Mars Walker. Alyssa answered questions on camera for the Design Museum’s IG Stories, delivering over 30,000 Instagram impressions and 87,000 impressions on Twitter.

Win a trip to the European Astronaut Centre

Exhibition visitors could win a trip to the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne. This was co-promoted with the Evening Standard, a free London newspaper. It featured across print, on kiosk stands at underground stations, and across their social media, website and email marketing channels.

The competition page received 15,000 views and over 5,000 people entered.

Astronaut Tim Peake prepares for his Mars Mission

Truly bringing home the theme of the exhibition, the Design Museum interviewed British astronaut Tim Peake on IG Stories.

Cooking on Mars

In addition to a pop-up Martian Meals stand at the Great Exhibition Road Festival, Great British Bake Off winner, Frances Quinn produced an exclusive Rocky Road To Mars for the Design Museum's Instagram.

Last call for passengers to Mars

In a final push for ticket sales, a paid social media campaign was activated before the exhibition closed. These ads carried press quotes, visitors feedback from social media and the message "last call for passengers to Mars".

The campaign in numbers

The success of the integrated advertising campaign to promote Moving to Mars resulted in over 82,000 visitors (9% above target) - making this the best attended thematic show in the 30-year history of the museum.

The overall campaign ROI was 466% and the exhibition web page was visited by 222,725 unique users. The digital campaign alone served over 20 million impressions. National and international press gave outstanding reviews.

What the Press said

'As this fascinating show makes clear, colonising the Red Planet will require technical genius – plus an eye for fashion and coffee you can drink upside-down' ★ ★ ★ ★ The Guardian

'Immersive at every turn' Evening Standard

★ ★ ★ ★ Londonist

'This show will help you become a real Martian' New Scientist

'A thrilling leap into the future' Financial Times

The Team

Design Museum
- Josephine Chanter (Director of Audiences)
- Matteo Plachesi (Head of Marketing and Communications)
- Rioco Green (PR & Media Manager)
- Laura Casali (Senior Marketing Officer)
- Sophia Ghonim (Digital Content Editor)
- Francesco Bianchini (Marketing Officer)
- Joanna Cockerill (PR & Communications Officer)

Campaign partners and collaborators
- Empire Design (Main artwork and digital assets)
- Fabrique (Family Trail - paper design assets)
- Petter Scholander (Family Trail animations)
- Tailored Media (5 Top Things to Do trailer)
- Ed Reeve (Exhibition photography)
- Felix Speller (Exhibition photography)
- Beth Sandland and Venetia Falconer (Influencer partnerships)
- YOU Agency (Out of Home media buying)
- London Evening Standard (Print advertising and promotions partner)