NorrlandsOperan – #NOwater24

Summary: NorrlandsOperan (NO) is a house of preforming arts in the small town Umeå, in the north of Sweden. In the spring of 2015, NorrlandsOperan staged the opera The Marriage of Figaro. The opera took place in a future in which power/wealth are measured in water. The PR goal was to create media attention around the performance, and to strengthen the opera’s position and present NO as progressive, trend-aware and relevant to more than opera buffs. The quantifiable targets were about reaching out to a wide target group: to attract attention in Umeå and throughout the whole country, have a reach of at least 2 million, and generate 50% publicity outside the culture pages.

The challenge and strategy: The Marriage of Figaro is one of the world’s most performed operas and, generally, opera evokes only minority interest. How could we make one of the world’s most familiar operas into something unique, interesting, and relevant, even for those withouta specific interest in culture and opera? Our strategy was to take the opera’s content and make it broadly relevant for the media and general public: we directed our focus not on the opera, but on a lack of water as “everyone’s problem.”

Execution: Our campaign #NOwater24 created an experiment in which a volunteer was locked up at the opera for 24 hours: the prisoner was given no food, but tweets on Twitter granted or deprived him of water. The process was in three parts:

  1. a recruitment advertisement published in the media/social media, looking for a candidate for the water experiment.
  2. a recruitment process that chose our candidate and presented him to media and social media.
  3. an experiment day, to which we invited the media and built commitment on Twitter.

Results: The result was a reach of 11 million (target: 2 million), a message that was about far more than opera and 95% publicity off the cultural pages (target 50 %). And all this in a country with 9 million people and a small town with only 120.000 inhabitants.

The campaign received publicity internationally, and in our leading national dailies, local TV and newspapers, on nationwide breakfast TV and in cultural magazines. The publicity related to the job ad, the candidate and the progress of the experiment, which also was broadcast live by the city’s largest media house.