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The Drum

SCADstory: how Savannah College of Art & Design celebrated its history in 4D

The Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) went experiential for its 40th anniversary.

BRC Imagination Arts was highly commended in the ‘Experiential Strategy’ category at the US arm of The Drum Awards for Marketing in 2020. Here, the team shares the thinking behind SCADstory, an immersive exhibition experience for a local university that became one of Savannah's top tourist attractions.

The challenge

The Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) began as a dream in the heart of an elementary school teacher from Atlanta. The marketing position of the SCAD is focused and simple: it is uniquely qualified to prepare talented students for professional, creative careers in a positively oriented university environment.

The university has a clearly defined set of values it hopes to pass on to its students. In preparation for its 40th anniversary, SCAD sought to bring those values to life in a tangible, emotional way. BRC Imagination Arts took on on this challenge, to help guests see SCAD as a unique place and a force for good - for its students, the city of Savannah, and the wider world of art and design.

With a final goal of making prospective students and their families more inclined to choose SCAD as their preferred school, the team began with clear, measurable KPIs. They chose these indicators of success:

• Increased admissions.

• Positive word-of-mouth.

• Become one of the Top 5 Things to Do in Savannah.

The strategy

SCAD first contemplated a museum exhibition, but this idea was quickly abandoned as ineffective and too safe. To achieve its objective, the project needed to be something as audacious and innovative as SCAD itself. The team therefore decided to elevate the exhibition experience by drawing on the many creative disciplines and degree programs that SCAD offers - from animation to themed entertainment design.

The campaign

SCADstory was the first of its kind for an educational institution - an immersive 4D experience telling a universal tale of the dreamer in us all. It was designed to carry guests on a journey through SCAD history, across four decades of beauty, design, and invention.

Incorporating the craft of 25 SCAD degree programs, this immersive experience is at its heart a story ’for all the dreamers who came to SCAD and found their people, and for the dreamers yet to come’. Through theatrical special effects and surprises, SCAD’s founder, Paula Wallace, transforms dreamers into achievers by turning a university degree into a path to a professional creative career. The audience's expectations are subverted with unconventional uses of immersive media, special effects, seamless technology, and storytelling moments of magic, surprise and delight.

SCADstory aligned perfectly with the university’s overall marketing strategy, but was at the same time innovative, emotional, and unexpected.

The results

SCADstory's reception was overwhelming positive, meeting the KPIs set by the team. It achieved its goal of positive word-of-mouth - SCADstory has a perfect 5-star rating on TripAdvisor and became on of its Top 5 Things to Do in Savannah - at the time of this entry, it was listed as the #2 thing to do in Savannah. Over 30,000 people experienced SCADstory at its permanent location in Savannah since it opened in April 2019.

“SCAD Story is an amazing visual, sensory and emotional experience. This exhibition truly depicts how one's inspiration can be cultivated, nurtured and expanded over time to eventually.”

“Don’t leave Savanah without visiting the multimedia experience at the old armory. People of all ages will enjoy the experience.”

“So beautiful! Makes me want to be a student again.”

- A small sample of guest feedback taken from exit surveys at the exhibition.

This project was a winner at The Drum Awards for Marketing in 2020. To find out which competitions in The Drum Awards are currently open for entries, click here.