Behind the Work in association withThe Immortal Awards

How Oechsle Helped Lima’s Municipal Theatre Sell Out Despite Covid Restrictions

Advertising Agency
Lima, Peru
LBB’s Ben Conway speaks to Gonzalo Pazos, a senior creative at Fahrenheit DDB, the agency behind the campaign that put (mannequin) bums on seats to support Lima’s pandemic-affected theatre scene and promote Oeschle’s clothing line

For many, the pandemic may already seem like a distant memory – but the reality for some in several countries around the world is that the impacts and threat of covid still remain, continuing to affect their daily lives. Now over two years on since the start of lockdowns, social distancing and other pandemic-related lifestyle changes, Peru’s theatres still have capacity restrictions – with 35% of the seats going unsold to every show. 

Working with creative agency Fahrenheit DDB, Peruvian retailer Oechsle decided to support the Municipal Theatre in Lima, which already survived in a difficult industry pre-covid, by purchasing those ‘unsellable’ tickets. In turn, they filled out the previously empty spaces by putting store mannequins in the seats, dressed in outfits from Oechsle with QR codes that linked to its online store. Not only did the crowds appreciate being part of a ‘sell-out’ audience again, but Oeschle was able to market and boost its e-commerce whilst financially supporting the struggling arts sector - all without increasing the covid risk.

To speak about how this collaboration arose and supported one of Lima’s most in-need cultural institutions, LBB’s Ben Conway caught up with Fahrenheit DDB’s senior creative, Gonzalo Pazos, who discussed how the project was set in motion, the theatre scene in Lima and the gratification from seeing people kiss and take selfies with the mannequins.

LBB> Where did the initial creative spark for this campaign come from? Was it from you or Oechsle?

Gonzalo> The initial spark came from the creative team of the agency. We knew the need from Oechsle for generating a bigger association with fashion and at the same time, we were working on its annual branding campaign. With this context, was born the initiative of creating an idea that helps build brand prestige and that involves a lot of fashion in an intelligent way for the times we are living.

LBB> Which theatre did you get involved in the project? How did you choose which to work with?

Gonzalo> We did this project in collaboration with the Preludio Cultural Association at the Municipal Theater of Lima. Basically, the context led us to get involved with both and it couldn't have been in a better way. Preludio is the largest musical theatre production company in the entire country and, after two years of the pandemic, they finally returned to present an important face-to-face play. Not incidentally, the play is called ‘Todos Vuelven’, which means ‘everyone returns’ in Spanish, alluding to the return to the stage. On the other hand, the Municipal Theatre is the main theatre of the capital (Lima, Peru). It is a beautiful theatre and it has been a privilege to be able to activate our idea in its space.

LBB> What was the theatre’s response to the campaign idea at first?

Gonzalo> In Peru, the theatre is a very difficult industry. Theatre production companies always need sponsorship, since it is not a highly developed industry in this country and there are not enough incentives from the government. Knowing that we really wanted to help them economically and with publicity, they were happy to come up with the idea.

LBB> Did the idea start with simply buying the seats and placing mannequins there? How did that evolve into fully-dressed mannequins with QR codes to buy the clothes?

Gonzalo> The core of the idea was always to create a new advertising media that generates a win-win between our client and the theatres. And that win-win could not be just something symbolic, but we had to make a real impact. That way, not only did we buy unsold tickets, but Oechsle was a major sponsor in that play season. On the other hand, we did not want the project to remain as an idea to generate a trending topic and nothing more. We needed to give it a more concrete purpose. For this reason, we decided to put QR codes on them to direct the public to our virtual store. Just as the brand has a need for awareness, it also has a real need to sell and boost its e-commerce.

LBB> How long did the campaign take in total? And for how many shows were the mannequins in the seats?

Gonzalo> The campaign took approximately two months, which meant 15 plays in which our mannequins were placed in the seats that could not be sold.

LBB> How was the process of designing the outfits and placing the mannequins in the theatre? Did Oechsle do this themselves?

Gonzalo> The garments correspond to the latest clothing collections that Oechsle is promoting. The outfits themselves were designed by a very talented styling team who always work with Oechsle and us on the campaigns. The entire production has been a team effort in which we have all done a lot. Sometimes you have to get things done in ways you didn't expect and that's always an opportunity to learn and experience new things.

LBB> What was the reaction from the audience to seeing the mannequins in the seats?

Gonzalo> We had a slight concern that our mannequins would make the public uncomfortable. That's why we were very careful about placing them in the correct spaces and at the exact times. Fortunately, we did not receive any complaints and all the comments have been really positive. The reactions we've seen have been incredibly mixed. Some took selfies with the mannequins, others hugged them. I've even seen a woman kissing a mannequin on the head. It has been very funny and at the same time very gratifying to see such a positive reception… we know that the media impact has been tremendous.

LBB> What was the hardest challenge you faced on this campaign? And how did you overcome it?

Gonzalo> Although this idea responds to the needs of the brand, this campaign was not carried out in response to a brief. It was a proposal from the agency and our client loved it. In short, we did not have an assigned budget to carry it out. Anyway, our client believed in the idea and bravely decided to invest in it. But working with a limited budget always brings complications. Although the satisfaction of having carried it out with such a neat craft fills us with pride. A great team involving many talents is capable of making beautiful things with few resources.

LBB> Anything else you would like to add?

Gonzalo> It is beautiful to have been able to work on a project that combines theatre and fashion. Personally, I love both worlds. Mixing everything into an idea that has also fascinated us since it was born, has been an unforgettable experience. In addition, filming and working with a great team in a space as imposing and spectacular as the Municipal Theater is priceless. It is very satisfying to see the result, but it was also satisfying every day of work.

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