Canary Wharf: Winter Lights Festival 2019


Driving perception change is our overall brief for Canary Wharf. When the Winter Lights Festival returned for the fifth year, we were tasked with “landing the biggest splash yet” – to make sure the festival was more visible, and better attended than the previous year – and to firmly establish Canary Wharf as a cultural destination.


With a competitive arts scene in London in the New Year, we knew early outreach was essential to secure attention from the key city culture guides, and began talking to media in November to tease the artist line-up. We focused on the new pieces and in particular those by British artists such as Squidsoup who’s walkthrough experience of 24,000 spheres of light was commissioned especially for the festival and is the largest version of the artwork to have ever been shown. To ensure a crescendo of coverage on launch day, we adopted a visual-first media strategy with a three pronged approach focusing on photographers, picture desks and authentic Instagram influencers. We held an exclusive preview for the London Evening Standard to ensure standout coverage the day prior to launch. The evening prior to launch was carefully choreographed to ensure we could host all media sectors and deliver the required assets. We held an exclusive photography preview which was attended by 13 national news photographers and we also worked with a separate photographer to capture our own imagery. Broadcast crews attended and were each able to interview separate artists against different, visually striking artworks. A select group of influential Instagrammers within the arts and culture space were also given unprecedented access to the works to drive awareness and excitement online.


The campaign delivered over 230 pieces of media coverage, hitting all key London regional broadcast and print outlets. We secured the best live broadcast pieces since the festival launched five years ago, including BBC London, ITV London and London Live. On the day the festival opened, TimeOut published a full page feature. The festival also lit up the arts and culture hashtags on Instagram with 20,006 engagements delivered through the influencer partnerships. The 2019 festival as a whole saw record numbers with more than 600k people visiting over the 12 days, making it the most successful Winter Lights to date.

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