Shwsh! (Sorry, not you). That’s what we called a series of seven free events in secret locations around Cardiff in summer 2018. The mysterious shows, which promised “hot bands, secret locations, free exclusive experiences”, were teased through a series of social content, with clues sent via text message and passwords exchanged with actors for entry. The campaign won Best Use of Social Media at 2019’s CIPR PRide Awards.
Shwsh supported the Welsh Language Strategy – a long-term vision of reaching 1 million Welsh language speakers by 2050. Our brief was to design and deliver a social media-led campaign that raised awareness of a series of secret gigs showcasing Welsh language music.
Between the 2nd and 11th of August 2018, Shwsh came to Cardiff. Tying in with the visit of the Eisteddfod to the city, Shwsh was a series of seven, free, exclusive events in unexpected secret locations around the capital. Entry to the gigs was co-ordinated through a series of clues delivered by via good old fashioned text messages telling of passwords and clandestine meeting places, with audiences driven to sign up through an integrated campaign of social, PR and outdoor advertising.
Facebook events show dozens of music events each night for Cardiff, but only one gig texted a series of clues with instructions on how to get into the gigs. This included instructions on where to meet a mysterious character called Shwsh who wore a different outfit each night and a secret password (a lyric from a Welsh language song) to give them to get instructions on where to find that night’s gig. Social media worked alongside the texts giving clues around where that evening’s performance could be. The secret nature of the events and unannounced venues and line-ups introduced new audiences to Welsh language miwsig.
Branding and content promised “hot bands, secret locations, free exclusive experiences”. They followed a minimal monochrome look, to deliver a striking contrast to stand out against typically colourful content promoting music events, so social media scrollers stopped and engaged. Images and gifs played up the mystique by using pictures of artists with letter-box gaps over their mouths/instruments to silence the sound. On-street advertising around the city used a similar format.
Keen to build an audience and buzz without the secret being spilt, we created a press release sent to influencers and media where a character Shwsh made further excitement and delivered the call to action to engage that was also shared on social and on-street posters.
The seven gigs were put on with a series of local promoters, meaning we could tap into their social media communities to build an audience. These venues were out of the ordinary from a boat café to a print warehouse and a Freemasons’ lodge. By picking unique venues, it encouraged people at the gigs to post content. A launch was held in a disused bank vault with influencers, bloggers and media invited to experience the first night to build more interest in the upcoming shows.
A post event survey told us: