The VFX Festival and Beyond
Despite having very low levels of awareness amongst parents, advisors and potential students, Escape Studios needed to be seen as a market leader within the film, VFX, games and animation industry with regards to higher education. Their key aim was to generate leads for their undergraduate, postgraduate and short courses – but this was difficult with low awareness and understanding of their offering. Alfred was bought in to change perception and increase awareness of the Escape Studios brand and build key stakeholder relationships.
To achieve this, we devised a multi-year strategy which required a change in approach, and challenged Escape to think and act more like a film studio than a university. We started with their biggest engagement mechanic, Escape’s annual VFX Festival. We up-scaled this event, turning it into what is now the UK’s biggest VFX festival, for industry professionals, schools and students. Under our direction, the programme brought to London the best in VFX, games, animation and motion graphics, to cement Escape’s place as a key educator and innovator to prospective students and industry stakeholders.
We partnered with an independent cultural venue, Rich Mix, a company who is aligned with our values. We took over the whole venue to host three days of talks, workshops, panels, exhibitors, and one to one coaching sessions. We harnessed the power of social media to ensure the activity went further than Rich Mix. To show that we were giving back to the community, we offered a scholarship on behalf on Rich Mix, for a student in Tower Hamlets to attend Escape Studios.
From 2016 to 2018, there has been a 35% increase in attendees. Streamlining ticket sales have allowed us to increase revenue by 54% across this time. The festival has dramatically grown in stature. In February 2018, 95 speakers participated in over 45 dedicated presentations, panels, workshops and discussions on the latest industry trends, movies and games.
We delivered massive levels of coverage and social conversation. Pre-promotion activity took place to drive ticket sales, plus media activation on-site, including a dedicated three-day media junket, resulting in coverage across national, consumer, and specialist media including BBC Click, The Guardian, Metro, Mirror Online, Shortlist and Wired.
2018 was the biggest yet for the VFX Festival. Under our ownership, it has contributed to a 77% increase in undergraduate, postgraduate and short course leads for Escape Studios, and stronger relationships with key industry partners.
From a monetising perspective, we secured a 200% increase in brands contributing to the festival as sponsors. This included the likes of technology companies HP and Wacom, to software creator Side FX/Houdini.
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