Wexley School for Girls, one of the nation’s most inventive integrated marketing and advertising companies, is up to its new tricks with the launch of a campaign to ‘Restore the R’ in Seattle, starting on July 24th. The ‘R’ in question is the sorely missed 12-foot high, red, illuminated symbol of legendary Rainier beer, which welcomed Seattle residents and visitors from atop the brewery tower. With the passing of the brewery into the hands of a coffee company, the ‘R’ was recovered from a pile of debris and removed to storage where it languished forlornly – until MOHAI – Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry – decided to resurrect it.
Aware of their success with engaging public support and building a hardcore fan base for the Seattle Sounders soccer team - MOHAI engaged Seattle-based Wexley School for Girls to create a campaign featuring pieces from the MOHAI collection that would become permanent fixtures in MOHAI’s new location (opening December 2012). As part of the ‘Parade of Artefacts’, Wexley came up with a campaign that would engage the public, create enthusiasm for the ‘R’ and ‘Restore the R’ to its rightful place in the hearts and minds of Seattle’s residents. Wexley approached Rainier’s new owners Pabst Brewing Company, who eagerly agreed to help return the ‘R’ to landmark status.
“Restoring the Rainier R sign is very important to us at Pabst Brewing Company, and we know it's important to the Northwest community," said Daren Metropoulos, co-owner of Pabst Brewing Company. "We have so many loyal fans that will be thrilled to see this iconic sign come back to life. Together, we will re-create history by relighting the Rainier R."
Rainier is known throughout the Northwest for its quirky, innovative marketing and faithful fans. The brand’s playful essence and consumer affinity fostered an inspiring collaboration with a uniquely engaging strategy as the end result. ‘Restore the R’ encourages Seattle residents as well as Rainier beer fans nationwide to get involved in numerous inspired challenges. The invitation to participate will be featured on half a million Rainier beer bottle caps distributed across the Pacific Northwest.
The cornerstone is the Wexley-concepted website: RestoreTheR.com
where individuals, friends, families, office teams, can choose how to get involved from a selection of fun and intriguing challenges that will change as the first round of challenges is completed. Wexley has also created, conceptualized and produced an evocative and compelling online video that features subtle visual symbols of the "R" in the Pacific Northwest, such as a melting wax ‘R’ in a Zen rock garden, a Washington apple ‘R’ made from the peel, a melting butter ‘R’ in an iron skillet. The stunning video is intended as a call-to-action, and to encourage creativity of expression in undertaking and completing challenges: there is no ‘right way’ to undertake a challenge.
Challenges vary from the sublime to the ridiculous, for example:
- Cook something in the shape of an ‘R’
- Shave an ‘R’ into your hair
- Take a bath in your favourite canned food
- Create a full suit of armour made from Rainier boxes
Participants will need to capture their submission and upload the evidence to RestoreTheR.com
. Each time a worthy challenge is completed, a light bulb in the ‘R’ is lit and comes one step closer to its former glory. With Pabst covering the cost of restoration, fan support is all that’s needed to turn the lights back on.
As excitement and interest are generated and grow via social media and other PR and marketing, members of the public are encouraged to go online and view their favourite executions. The website also allows visitors to submit new challenge ideas – so that the competition is constantly evolving.
There will be prizes – but that’s not really the point…
Wexley’s Cal McAllister says, “It’s a sign of the media times that this whole campaign is being undertaken without any paid-for media. We’re using the Northwest’s favourite beer to start a social movement that showcases Rainier’s ties to Seattle, drives awareness of the collaboration between MOHAI and Rainier, and encourages community engagement in the restoration of the iconic ‘R’. MOHAI literally pulled it off a trash heap, and it will now be restored to greatness. It’s just fun. We think that people will be motivated to participate regardless of geography.”
As the campaign gets underway, with challenges completed and participant proof uploaded, the expectation is that certain submissions will find themselves shared across the web sphere by Seattle residents and Rainier beer fans nationwide. And of course, the media won’t be able to resist getting involved either. What news crew could resist the sight of someone standing on the street playing the vuvuzela for a cause? The campaign will continue as long as there are eager participants.