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To the next 200 years: how The Guardian celebrated its bicentennial by looking ahead

The Guardian's campaign used copywriting 'as bold as the newspaper itself'

Oliver Agency won the ‘Copywriting’ category at The Drum Awards for Out of Home, with its celebration of The Guardian’s 200th anniversary. Reminding readers of the power of impartial journalism, this campaign used provocative headlines to reinforce its message: that the newspaper isn’t going anywhere. Here, the team behind the winning entry explains the thinking behind it.

With its 200th Birthday approaching, the Guardian wanted to use the milestone to celebrate its heritage, but also look to the future. They wanted to reaffirm its mission, to deepen relationships with existing readers, to bring in a new cohort, and to grow reader revenue from new and old alike.

Since the very beginning, the Guardian’s mission has been to make the world a better, fairer place for everyone. That mission of holding power to account, representing the untold stories, and advocating for social progress by providing everyone with open access to crucial information has remained vital. But it’s a mission that’s far from being finished as our campaign strapline acknowledged with its double meaning: The Guardian. For 200 years, a work in progress.

As a news brand, we felt copy should be at the beating heart of our campaign. The center-piece of the media mix was a multi-city OOH campaign with multiple executions across almost 200 sites, including special builds that were themselves still in progress. We also deliberately chose locations with deeper meaning – such as the mega-banner in Manchester that was moments from the Guardian’s birth-place. And many of the copy executions were crafted with a knowing nod to our readership who passionately shared our values.

The campaign also integrated across press, display across both site and app, social, podcasts, film, emails and newsletters to existing subscribers, and DM. We even collaborated with Editorial with a new logo in the masthead, a reprint of the first edition of the Guardian, a limited-edition 200 year newspaper, and a digital special edition.

All with copywriting as bold and provocative as the newspaper itself.

The campaign resonated with the industry, and more importantly our readers. We achieved 41.6 million page views per day across the site, and 6 million on G200 birthday pages. It was also one of The Guardian’s best performing campaigns to date. Delivering substantial financial support with 59.8k acts of support across single and recurring revenue. We also saw a 16% increase in awareness with non-readers, a powerful starting point for the next 200 years.

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for Out of Home. To find out more, including which competitions are currently open for entry, visit The Drum Awards website.

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