On 1 July, 1400 soldiers in the First World War uniform appeared unexpectedly across the UK. The soldiers were silent, but handed out cards to the public with the name of a soldier who died on the first day of the Somme. The card also contained the hashtag '#wearehere'.
The event became an international phenomenon.
The artistic challenge was to engage contemporary Britain with the Battle of the Somme and a war that happened 100 years ago.
Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller and Rufus Norris, director of the National Theatre worked with 14-18 NOW, to create an astonishing public art performance on a national scale.
The public’s response to the work was immediate, heartfelt and visceral with tens of thousands taking to social media to share their experience, with many stating that they had been ‘moved to tears’.
The communications challenge was to bring the artistic vision to life, planned in total secrecy with 23 theatres, led by The Cogency and 14-18 NOW
The event had no advance publicity so the soldiers could appear unexpectedly, but the digital strategy had to create maximum awareness on the day both before and after the ‘reveal moment’.
JOINING THE CONVERSATIONS ACROSS THE UK
The surprise element of the event meant that the public were caught off-guard. The use of the hashtag on the cards meant that the public had a keyword to use no matter where they were experiencing it.
This brought stories and comments from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland together with one search term.
7AM - 6:30PM (PRE REVEAL)
We recruited a secret team of bloggers across the UK and the 23 theatre partners identified key influencers – such as Dawn French and Jon Snow – who were briefed to respond to what they saw whilst respecting the embargoed information, building awareness of #wearehere.
Social activity was monitored continually during the day, identifying public posts that revealed any embargoed information so the team could then ask for them to be deleted, ensuring the air of intrigued was maintained.
At 7am, an unbranded website went live, with The Cogency manually aggregating social content from the public, using #wearehere to search for and upload more than 7,700 posts to the site.
6:30PM - 7PM (THE REVEAL MOMENT)
The BBC had exclusivity on the reveal and broadcast content during the News at 6:30pm. Content was recorded within each BBC region during the day to use during the reveal moment. The BBC published articles and social posts via multiple BBC brands including NEWS, ARTS and RADIO 1.
7pm was the reveal moment for all 23 theatres, social influencers and bloggers and it signalled the launch of Phase 2 of the website, publishing the wealth of photography and video material that had been sent in from the theatres across the day, edited by two very busy filmmakers.
7pm was also the ‘go!’ moment for social posts scheduled by the theatres, generating another huge uplift in conversation and flooding the website with visitors. The posting, generating and sharing of content continued over the weekend, and is still ongoing. One Facebook post has been shared over 56,000 times and a BBC Arts FB post was viewed more than 1.9 million times.
‘we’re here because we’re here’ dominated digital press and social media on 1st July and over the following week, generating the following results:
#wearehere exceeded 340 million impressions – the target was 63 million.
#wearehere trended for 14 hours+ and was at the no.1 position for over 5 hours. It reached Twitter Moments no.1 position before the reveal.
Over 100,000 online posts generated worldwide.
Over half the influencers’ tweets were used in articles on the BBC, ITV, Metro, Huffington Post, The New York Times, CNN and Mashable.
114,000+ people visitedwww.becausewearehere.co.uk to find out more.
A YouGov poll showed 63% of the UK population were aware of the project