Most people associate the National Trust with stately homes. But in recent years the charity has been trying to emphasise its other work. Food, Glorious Food, a five-month campaign to get people growing food at home, is part of this strategy.
Delivered by communications consultancy Forster, the campaign highlights that the trust is one of the country's largest landowners, with more than 200,000 hectares. It is designed to appeal to younger people who might not want to spend hours traipsing around, say, Wimpole Hall.
The campaign was initially scheduled for summer 2009 only, but it returned in 2010, beginning in May and ending this month at Halloween.
It is a major nationwide initiative, costing £130,000 and aimed at families in England and Wales. It involves events at more than 700 trust properties, the construction of a microsite and the giving away of 750,000 packets of seeds to encourage visitors to maintain their interest when they go home.
The trust chose the Food, Glorious Food name, but the campaign's look and feel were created by Forster. One of the biggest challenges was finding the right tone for a younger audience. The multi-coloured logo is fun and welcoming and the website is busy, upbeat and colourful. There are few references to the trust's name.
Forster also set about securing national media coverage to get parents interested. Weekend newspaper supplements were particularly targeted and The Sunday Times's Style magazine and the Sunday Mirror were among those featuring the campaign.
Success was evaluated by using visitor surveys, visitor numbers, staff surveys, web survey and traffic data, property feedback and PR tracking.
Seventy-eight per cent of visitors said it was 'likely' or 'very likely' that a Food, Glorious Food event had inspired them to eat more local and seasonal food, and 86 per cent said it had inspired them to grow their own. Ninety-seven per cent intended to grow their free seeds and 3,250 children have so far signed up to grow their own virtual vegetable patches.
The campaign's secondary aim was to shift perceptions of the trust, and 97 per cent of participants rated their experience as either 'good' or 'very enjoyable'.
Laura Palmer, lifestyle campaigns manager at the trust, said Forster's approach "captures the combination of fun and serious intent in a really engaging way".
- Bridget Ruffell, Managing partner, Corporate Edge
There's no doubt that the National Trust's Food Glorious Food campaign is right on message for today.
You can't turn on the TV without being bombarded with people encouraging you to grow your own, buy seasonally, eat healthily and get the children involved.
This campaign does all these things in a way that feels middle class and more than a little bit twee. If you think Jamie Oliver meets Duchy Originals, you'll get the picture.
There's nothing wrong with the idea behind this initiative, and the look and feel of the website are fresh and attractive. But if one of the key objectives is to encourage people to see the National Trust as an "increasingly inclusive, informal and relevant part of people's everyday lives", I'm not sure inviting people to pledge to run a 'home-grown' dinner party quite hits the spot.
Total: 8 out of 10