UTS Library

"BankSA - Principal Partner of the Adelaide Fringe"


Bank SA

PR Company: 

Hughes Public Relations

Award Type: 

Call Number: 

2006 C13 - 1



Executive Summary: 

In November 2005, BankSA secured the future of Australia’s biggest arts festival, the Adelaide Fringe, with a $1.4 million partnership until 2010.

A public relations strategy was developed to maximise the bank’s involvement in this unique event and positively position the relationship by promoting the benefits of the partnership to target publics.

There was a two-stage approach to the public relations campaign:

  • The launch of the partnership and its positive impact on the Fringe in the long-term
  • Publicising new Fringe initiatives arising from the BankSA sponsorship; and

Hughes Public Relations was appointed to assist with the public relations campaign.
The success of the campaign is evident in both the extensive media coverage and the high degree of goodwill amongst the arts community and other stakeholders.

Situation Analysis: 

On entering the Fringe partnership, both the Fringe Inc and BankSA were determined to protect the artistic integrity and popular culture of the event.

The aim was to support and enhance the event by creating a logical fit between the Bank, with its long history of supporting the community, and one of Australia’s largest community events.

Public relations support was required to publicly launch the partnership, positively position the association, maximise awareness and manage potential issues.
Potential issues / challenges were:

  • Sensitivity about the Fringe – a grass roots, community event - linking with a major corporate;
  • “Me too” comparisons with Adelaide Bank Festival of Arts; and
  • Gaining media cut-through during the busy Eventful Adelaide program.


Research was undertaken at a variety of levels before finalising the public relations campaign. This included stakeholder discussions and qualitative research.  

4.1 Interviews / discussions
Several discussions were held with the then Fringe Inc CEO Gail Carnes and Fringe Artistic Director Karen Hadfield to develop a clear understanding of their aims for the partnership and identify opportunities to enhance the event.
Key learnings included:

  • Concern among the arts community about corporate sponsorship;
  • The need to add value not only to Fringe audiences but to artists as well;
  • Key timing of Fringe announcements;
  • Supportive media and likely media partnerships;
  • Opportunities to talk to Fringe stakeholders;
  • A desire by the Fringe to enable more online discussion and reviews;
  • A need to help artists raise their profile and sell tickets; and
  • ·The opportunity to add fun to tasks such as lining up for a show or to buy tickets. 

4.2 Qualitative research
BankSA commissioned qualitative research (six focus groups) to gain further insight into issues raised in discussions with the Fringe team prior to finalising communication objectives and strategies.

The key findings confirmed the sensitivity of associating the Fringe with a major corporate but strong support for BankSA’s partnership with the Fringe.

The groups also were used to test initiatives the Bank could implement to enhance the Fringe and as a result of this research and Fringe discussions, BankSA developed the following three new initiatives:

Support Act - an artist support program to increase the profile of emerging artists and boost audiences.
The Fun Squad – a team of impromptu artists designed to bring fun to mundane tasks associated with the Fringe, such as lining up for a show.
TalkFringe.com – an interactive website creating a place for people to review shows, vote for the best acts, participate in Support Act ticket give-aways and view photos.

The initiatives were aimed at enhancing the Fringe for artists and audiences while providing the tools for the PR strategy to positively position BankSA as “adding value” to the Fringe.

Target Policies: 

Target Publics


Fringe stakeholders  -including Fringe staff, artists, audiences and the arts community
  • High level of interest.
  • Important to win as advocates as key influencers.
  • Risk for negativity relating to corporatisation of the event.
  • High exposure to BankSA Fringe initiatives.
  • Highest risk for issues.
  • Need to encourage acceptance and involvement in BankSA Fringe initiatives to foster goodwill and support.
  • Important group to drive positive word of mouth. 
Young people
  • High level of interest in the Fringe.
  • 18 to 35 year olds are a key target market in Bank’s ongoing brand repositioning.
  • BankSA wants to build relationships with this group.
General Public
  • Encourage goodwill towards BankSA.
  • Positive brand positioning that also impacts on customers and staff.

Communication Strategy: 

A comprehensive public relations strategy was developed, drawing on the research findings and addressing the key objectives.
Key elements of the strategy are outlined below.

  • BankSA launches to dovetail Fringe calendar of announcements


    • Ensure at each major opportunity to talk directly to Fringe stakeholders was meaningful and maximised; and
    • Tap into heightened media interest at key times for the Fringe to maximise coverage.
  • Maintain a Fringe feel about all elements of PR activity and stress the Fringe community and its all-inclusive focus 


    • Prevent any perceptions of BankSA taking over the Fringe; and
    • Ensure feel of “fun” rather than corporate.
  • Immediately address any concerns to prevent any negative impact.


    • Establish clear communication messages of the intent of the partnership from the outset and throughout the campaign. 
  • Establish media as ambassadors for the initiatives and encourage ownership by positioning Support Act and TalkFringe.com as tools / initiatives the media could use and become involved in.


    • Harness media support of the Fringe to maximise coverage and therefore awareness among key targets;
    • Position BankSA initiatives as useful resources to encourage repeat reference and coverage; and
    • Increase understanding among media of the partnership and how it is enhancing the Fringe.
  • Leverage Adelaide Fringe media partnerships


    • Maximises media coverage and reach a younger market – target public.
  • Gain impact and coverage before the Adelaide Festival and other activities began.
  • Provide ongoing liaison with media throughout the Fringe to ensure the initiatives stayed front-of-mind and all opportunities were harnessed.



  • Regular meetings with the Fringe team to enable dovetailing of programs and input.
  • Establishment of a ‘marketing team’ comprising relevant BankSA representatives and Hughes Public Relations - weekly meetings.
  • The drafting and execution of an outcome-focussed PR calendar, with each opportunity linked to the strategy to ensure quality, effective timing and consistency throughout the project (calendar excerpt, appendix A, i).

Partnership Launch 

  • Staged a media launch in the hub of Fringe territory near Rundle Street East to jointly announce the partnership. This included key Fringe and BankSA spokespeople and performances from Fringe entertainers.
  • Issued a news alert and news release to targeted media and managed their attendance on the day and all subsequent interviews (media release, appendix A, ii).
  • Key messages addressed challenges quickly and effectively (key messages, appendix A, iii).
  • BankSA Managing Director Mr Rob Chapman reinforced key messages to Fringe stakeholders in his speech at the Fringe Poster Launch, which was held the following week (speech notes, appendix A, iv).
  • Provided briefing notes to Minister for the Arts to enable acknowledgement and endorsement in his speech at the Poster Launch.  

Support Act Launch

  • Worked with The Advertiser to provide an exclusive story timed to appear on the day of the Fringe Program launch, as a preview story (media release, appendix A, v).
  • Included comments from artists on the importance of the program.


  • Reinforced with direct communication to stakeholders, particularly artists, through Mr Chapman’s speech at the Program Launch (speech notes, appendix A, vi).
  • Artists were also directly advised via the regular Fringe newsletter.

Fun Squad Launch

  • Exclusive launch for media partners Channel 10 and The Advertiser on the Monday prior to the Fringe Parade.
  • A photo/ filming opportunity was arranged with the Fun Squad and Fringe Artistic Director Karen Hadfield to reinforce the Fringe support and fun “value add” of the initiative.

Media Ambassadors

  • In January, the team arranged and held a series of meetings with media partners to inform them of BankSA initiatives and secure opportunities. These included:
    • Co-branding the BankSA Support Act and the Advertiser’s Adelaide Confidential ticket give-aways and running stories twice a week during the Fringe.
    • A Channel 10 story on each of the BankSA initiatives and ongoing www.talkfringe.com mentions.
    • Nova breakfast radio interview with Support Act artists. 
  • Developed a list of “Fringe-aware” key SA journalists from print, radio and TV to target as ambassadors;
  • Two weeks before the Fringe, an innovative media kit (a soft launch for TalkFringe.com), including fact sheets on BankSA’s Fringe initiatives, branded t-shirts and tattoos, was sent to ambassadors (media fact sheets, appendix A, vii);
    • The media kit and direct contact with these key media encouraged understanding of the initiatives, promoted use of TalkFringe.com as a resource and urged media to support artists through Support Act. 

Maintaining momentum

  • Leveraged relationships with media ambassadors and key journalists.
  • Kept the media informed by targeted communication on the success of the initiatives.

This included first hand accounts from artists of the benefit of programs to strongly vocalise support of the partnership and BankSA’s enhancement of the Fringe.
This external media activity occurred in parallel with targeted BankSA driven communication programs for BankSA staff and BankSA customers. 


It was a highly successful campaign with extensive media coverage and effective communication with direct target publics of BankSA’s Fringe initiatives.

he campaign clearly communicated key messages and generated goodwill from target publics with only positive feedback throughout the process.

 total of 57 media hits were generated throughout South Australian media (summary of coverage and collage of media clips, appendix A, ix, and television coverage on CD, appendix A). This included stories launching the partnership and initiatives and importantly, highlighted support for the partnership with third party endorsements stressing the goodwill and BankSA’s enhancement of the Fringe.

Awareness of the partnership was raised. Following the partnership announcement (PR only) independent research showed a higher association of BankSA and the Fringe than the established partnership of Adelaide Bank and the Festival of Arts (excerpt of research, appendix A, viii). At the end of the campaign further research showed awareness has increased (research except page 20, appendix A, x).

The launch of Support Act (PR only) media coverage and direct communication resulted in 600 people signing up within a week to become involved in the artist support program and 100 artists registering for assistance.

Support for the partnership and awareness of initiatives was also demonstrated by community involvement in the programs with 332,951 hits to the www.talkFringe.com website, 4,011 Support Act registrations and 2,353 ticket giveaways, worth $40,877, which were distributed free to the public via TalkFringe.com.


Success rating
Launch and raise awareness of BankSA’s Principal Partnership with the Adelaide Fringe;
  • Coverage on Launch on Channel 9, Channel 10, The Advertiser, Nova, Triple M, SA.FM, 5AA, Mix.FM, a major photo story in The Advertiser and article in the City Messenger (appendix A, ix and CD).
  • Utilised key messages to clearly address and eliminate issues of “me too” comparisons with the Adelaide Bank Festival of Arts and negative connotations of corporatisation of the event (Advertiser article, appendix A, ix, and speech notes, appendix A, iv).
  • Directly communicated partnership and positive intentions to 300 target publics at the Fringe Poster launch (speech notes, appendix A, vi).
  • Following the initial partnership announcement (PR only) independent research showed a higher association of BankSA and the Fringe than the established partnership of Adelaide Bank and the Festival of Arts (excerpt of research, appendix A, viii). 
  • Further research following the Fringe showed prompted awareness of the partnership among Fringe-goers had risen to 44 per cent (research except page 20, appendix A, x).
Create goodwill regarding the partnership from the public and artists
  • Artists were introducing themselves to BankSA MD Mr Rob Chapman and thanking him for the support.
  • All media coverage was positive (a prime example is channel 10 story on Support Act, appendix A, CD, with endorsement from artists and Fringe-goers of Support Act). The Advertiser also highlighted the partnership in its “Encore Encore” listing of milestones for the arts (appendix A, ix).  a).
  • Strong support and endorsement from the Premier, Minister of Arts, Fringe Board and artists - creating excellent word of mouth at Fringe launches.
  • Strong general public support for BankSA shown in popularity of initiatives including 332,951 hits to the TalkFringe.com, 4,011 Support Act registrations.
Extremely successful
Success rating
Launch and drive awareness about BankSA’s three new Fringe initiatives aimed at enhancing the event
  • 19 media hits on TV, radio and newspaper about the initiatives.
  • Awareness demonstrated by strong general public support for BankSA initiatives as mentioned. 
  • The launch of Support Act (PR only) media coverage and direct communication resulted in 600 people signing up within a week to become involved in the artist support program and 100 artists registering for assistance.
Utilise initiatives to help position BankSA as “adding value / fun” to the Fringe; and
  • Strong appreciation among artists for Support Act as previously highlighted.
         “I’ve just felt really supported, being a Support Act, and really welcomed, and they’ve bought,  
         like, 60 tickets to my show, which has been superb, and bringing lots of people and getting the
         word out there,” says Penny Ashton, one of the 100 artists registered to become involved
         in Support Act (see transcript of interview on Nova breakfast, appendix A, ix).
  • Strong public and artist support of initiatives as mentioned.
  • All coverage had a fun “Fringe” look and feel – not corporate.
Very high
Reach the key audiences during the busy month of March.
  •  57 total media hits in the lead up to and during the Fringe.
  • As already outlined, independent research showed strong awareness of partnership and this was supported by high levels of public involvement in initiatives.
  • Directly communicated to more than 600 Fringe stakeholders at the Poster Launch and Program Launch.
Extremely high

The campaign is considered an outstanding success having met objectives and therefore the program goals. It has also established a significant base of awareness to build on during the years of the Principal Partnership.