BBS was appointed by RiverCity Motorway Group to manage the official opening of Australia’s longest road tunnel – the Clem Jones Tunnel (CLEM7) in early 2010.
The 6.8 kilometre CLEM7 tunnel was a long-awaited major roads project that links Brisbane’s inner north and south suburbs, enabling travellers to avoid congestion in the CBD.
The CLEM7 Charity Event was a ‘once in a lifetime’ gala function designed to meet three key objectives:
1. Increase awareness and generate excitement around the opening of CLEM7 among key stakeholders
2. Celebrate the completion of one of Brisbane’s largest infrastructure projects with those involved in the construction process
3. Raise money for Brisbane charities through ticket sales and fundraising activities.
The gala event was held over three hours inside the tunnel, with approximately 400 guests in attendance.
Logistically, BBS’ event plan included safety in relation to ventilation and evacuation, access by guests and suppliers to an operational construction site, power and other suppliers’ needs, and ‘themeing’ a vast amount of open space effectively and efficiently.
BBS achieved 480 ticket sales, exceeding the 400-ticket target required to meet budget.
BBS also helped sell $170,000 in sponsorships, exceeding the $100,000 target.
The opening of the CLEM7 presented a two-fold opportunity:
- A major milestone to publicise the tunnel and generate excitement for its impending public opening
- A unique opportunity for the project’s key supporters to be recognised and rewarded for their collaborative efforts, by previewing the much-anticipated tunnel before the general public.
While the completion of construction was months ahead of schedule, the project was under intense political and media scrutiny. Objections to the impending tollway and some design features were well documented in the lead up to the opening. Effective use of tax payers’ money was constantly being questioned by opposing councillors and State Government.
Fundraising sales were also a challenge in a market where corporate philanthropy was already saturated. It was imperative that a beneficiary charity was chosen based on its needs, relevancy to the project and ability to draw interest.
Logistics to theme and equip the open space was also a challenge. The venue was not designed to hold functions, accommodate food handling and this level of foot traffic. BBS’ event plan ensured the gala event experience began the moment guests boarded the shuttle bus through to their departure from the tunnel.
Due to construction protocols, BBS could only confirm the date for the event three weeks in advance creating extreme time pressures to distribute invitations, sell tickets, and engage caterers and entertainment.
Why the event was important for the client
The event was important for the client to create excitement in the lead up to the public opening of the CLEM7. A gala event was necessary to differentiate from the public opening and target specific stakeholders, and the venue was essential for relevance, despite the logistical difficulties.
Why public relations was needed
Public relations was needed because of the high level of event and stakeholder management required.
This was not only from a logistical and creative perspective, but also in terms of sponsorship management, ticket sale promotion and media management.
With various stakeholders involved including our client RiverCity Motorways, local government, the construction joint venture, charities and suppliers, the management of the priorities and expectations of each party also needed to be managed carefully.
Research was undertaken to determine:
- The charities to be chosen as beneficiaries - charities needed to be able to provide a certain level of event support and targets for ticket sales. The charity also needed to be relevant to the CLEM7 project
- Target audiences for ticket sales – not only to maximise ticket sales, but also to determine suitable entertainment, auction items and choice of MC
- Target audiences for sponsorship – chosen not only for financial ability to sponsor, but also for relevance to the CLEM7 project
- The logistics for delivering an event in a tunnel – in terms of safety, acoustics, food handling needs, access and aesthetics.
The underground venue posed a number of logistical challenges. The following research was undertaken:
Brisbane City Council (including the Lord Mayor’s Office, Deputy Mayor’s Office, Brisbane Transport and Major Infrastructure Projects Office and Brisbane Transport)
The design and construction of the CLEM7 project was commissioned by Council and RiverCity Motorway Group is a private Queensland company responsible for operating the tunnel. The event was hosted by RiverCity Motorway Group to recognise this relationship with Council and its key stakeholders.
Construction Joint Venture - Leighton Bilfinger Berger JV (LBBJV)
The event was to mark and celebrate the end of construction. Key messages of the event included recognition of the construction joint venture efforts. LBB JV was also the events’ Platinum Sponsor.
BBS was required to communicate the synergies between the charities, event and CLEM7 project, to demonstrate that the event itself was to be high profile, professionally organised and profitable.
The contractual obligations and the benefits of sponsorship needed to be communicated effectively, not only for legal reasons, but to secure sponsorship income. BBS helped develop a list of potential targets and secure sponsorships which included major private and public entities including Energex, Fosters, Ernst and Young and Clayton Utz.
Brisbane’s corporations were targeted for ticket sales, in addition to the beneficiary charities and sponsors. As a gala event designed for industry, the general public was not targeted for ticket sales.
Secondary audience included tunnel sub-contractors and the wider Brisbane community.
The following strategies were devised:
The following activities were implemented according to the goals and strategies on the previous page:
BBS achieved the following:
480 tickets were sold, exceeding the target of 400.
The guest list included local and state government representatives, construction partners, sponsors and Brisbane’s business elite.
$170,000 was secured in event sponsorship, exceeding the target of $100,000. Sponsors represented some of the Australia’s most recognised corporations, including:
Evolution Traffic Control
Ernst and Young
SKM Connell Wagner
AECOM and Parsens
Leighton Bilfinger Berger
Including event profits from ticket sales and sponsorship, and profits from auction items on the night, profits were distributed to the charities accordingly:
Lord Mayor’s Charitable Trust $49,092.78
Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation $30,527.78
The CLEM7 charity event was a unique event that ran within time and budget restraints. It was delivered in a short timeframe, and delivered on budget, delivering a profit for the two charities.
Positive feedback was received from the client and attendees. See testimonials in Appendices.