Remix: Marketing Seattle Art Museum’s Late Night Creative Explosion

By Reed Redman

The Seattle Art Museum’s (SAM) Remix is a popular event which takes place at our downtown location twice a year, and the Olympic Sculpture Park every summer. With humble beginnings, the event started with a grant from the Wallace Foundation to explore and engage audiences ages 18–34. The aim was to produce a program that shifted the audience’s experience of an art institution and encouraged them to engage with the museum on a deeper and interactive level. Remix is now a late night creative explosion that bursts at the seams with art, performances, tours, music, dancing, and diverse programming. It has become so extremely successful that each affair sells out with 2,500 people or more in attendance. Remix is produced and programmed by SAM’s Public Programs department, but is truly a museum-wide collaboration involving staff from all of the museum’s divisions, including Marketing & Communications.

Photo by Robert Wade

Creative design for Remix is very important in capturing the energy and the essence of the program in our promotional materials. SAM’s in-house design team created a brand that has strong public recognition and also pops with the same enthusiasm found at the event. Through the use of bold graphics, bright colors, and multiple images the materials convey the complete experience of Remix. Using refreshed and updated versions of on-brand design for each Remix, marketing materials include posters, club cards, and wheat pastes found around metropolitan Seattle neighborhoods in the weeks leading up to the event. In the future, SAM’s design team hopes to develop video promotions to capture the entire experience of the event more comprehensively.

Remix has a modest budget for each event, accounting for printing and production of designed promotional materials, photography, advertising, and supplies.

Photo by Robert Wade

The program is fortunate to have two media sponsors that strengthen the marketing presence, KEXP (radio) and The Stranger (print), with whom we always run advertising with prior to each event. Both organizations reach a young and diverse target audience that is key to the success of Remix. Advertising with KEXP entails a 1 week promotion leading up to the event. Meanwhile, The Stranger print ads run 2 weeks prior to, and the week of the event with the added bonus of a 2-week web promotion and 1 e-blast to their subscribers.

As Remix attracts young adult audiences, social media channels are fundamental tools.

SAM’s Facebook page has nearly 80,000 likes. Using this vehicle, promotions start at least 1 month in advance. An event page for each Remix is created and all related posts will include #SAMRemix, a popular hashtag that has gained a strong presence over the years. The event pages are vital because we will post a link to the upcoming Remix in the last Remix event page. This is a popular way to encourage word-of-mouth marketing. It is pivotal that we now include the link to the event page in the confirmation email people receive from SAM after purchasing tickets to the affair to encourage attendees to RSVP and invite friends online.

Photo by Robert Wade

SAM’s Twitter has about 58,000 followers. This channel also prompts promotion at least 1 month prior to the event. In preparation, we look to see who has used #SAMRemix in the past to identify influencers and potential guest tweeters who can help spread the word about the Remix. To select guest tweeters, SAM looks for active and engaging people, with at least 1,000 followers and a blog. The guest tweeters help promote the event via their social media pages and blogs, and also RSVP and invite friends to the Facebook event page. During Remix, the marketing team live tweet the event along with the guest tweeters.

SAM’s Instagram has over 15,000 followers. Posts prior to the program include repurposed general Remix promotional materials as creative for graphic images. On the day of, we post a photo of the event set-up to get people excited, especially since we see a lot of last minute ticket sales. During each Remix we post videos of music and dance performances, photos of event-specific installations and art activities, and guests enjoying themselves. We end the night with a wrap-up post that includes a ‘Thank You’ to all with the date of the next Remix. The following day, we go through and like all photos with #SAMRemix or a geo-tag of the Seattle Art Museum location to generate follow-backs and enthusiasm for the next Remix.

All of the co-hosts, performers, and artists involved in Remix also help tremendously in promoting the event and spreading the word through their own communication channels. We send everyone involved an email with a promo kit that includes suggested hashtags, links to the webpage, Facebook event page, and all of our social media sites. The kit also includes images for them to use in their personal blog posts, e-news, and social media sites. We find it helpful to include sample tweets and Facebook-post copy because it facilitates and encourages communication via social media shares.

The success of Remix truly lies in the event’s ability to captivate young adult audiences in the programming and marketing leading up to the event. You’re invited to follow #SAMRemix and explore our media channels and advertising efforts as we promote the upcoming Remix at the Olympic Sculpture Park on August 21, 2015.

Reed Redman is the Communications Intern at the Seattle Art Museum.



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