March 31, 2010

Inventive marketing pays off in Australia

These days it’s all about getting attention for your event, whether through rich prize-money, creative approaches or, as in the case of the Australian Pipe Band Championships, a risqué and inventive marketing campaign. It’s paid off for the organizers of the Australian event, to be held on April 3rd in Caloundra, Queensland, about 30 miles north of Brisbane on the country’s Sunshine Coast, with the biannual contest attracting a record number of entries through all grades.

The pipe band competitions are a part of a larger overall event, the 2010 Tartan Spectacular, which has benefitted from professional marketing and design, including merchandise with graphics intended to appeal to those beyond the piping and drumming world.

Pipe Band Australia sanctions and runs the pipe band portion of the event, which every two years moves to a different Australian state. “By and large band entries at Australian Pipe Band Championships have been in the low forties, but this year we have 49 band performances with bands coming as far as Perth, Western Australia and New Zealand,” said Alex McConnell, secretary of Pipe Bands Australia, Queensland, and 2010 Tartan Spectacular. “There hasn’t been this many pipe bands at an Australian Championships for probably 25 years, and my understanding is that there are over 500 Highland dancers entered from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US and the UK.”

The event has been communicated with a comprehensive website with information and merchandise intended to catch the eye of not only pipers and drummers, but the public at-large. The poster for the Tartan Spectacular features a swimsuit model with a tartan blanket overhead. Suggestive t-shirts for the event include a “Blow Me” top for with pipes and a “Bang Me” shirt with drums.

The contest is branching out by adding ensemble judges, only the second time that the adjudication category has been a part of the Australian Pipe Band Championships. The event is also flying in the world-travelling Tyler Fry of House of Edgar-Shotts & Dykehead, and former Band Club Pipe Band bass drummer, Ken Maltman, to assess mid-section performances.

A “Beat It!” drumming event on the Friday before the pipe band contest and a large beer tent “After Party” following the championships have also been added.

“We have approached the Championships with an emphasis on bringing all that is enjoyable about piping and drumming music, pipe bands, dancers and tartan into an amazing event,” said Donald MacSween, Pipe Bands Australia, Queensland, Chairman. “Because the Australian Pipe Band Championships is held biannually and it will be a number of years before Queensland has the opportunity to hold the Championships again, we wanted to make it more than just a pipe band competition. We decided to hold the event on the Sunshine Coast, one of Australia’s most popular family destinations, we’ve branded the event into a spectacular festival and have engaged a unique brand and marketing campaign to tap into a market that will appeal to the younger members of our pipe bands.”

A design firm based in Brisbane and London took on the account, developing the “Girl on the Beach” ad and t-shirt images.

The predicted high temperature for Caloundra today is 36 º and sunshine.


  1. What is it with these protectionist Australians holding their CHAMPIONSHIP” in Australia where American bands can’t easily attend? Do we have to join their “ASSOCIATION” to compete? Are they paying travel money for bands coming from over 10

  2. Never mind the ultra poisonous snakes, jellyfish, spiders and big mean old crocks and sharks……. I’ve also heard that those whopping big roos can be nasty at times too



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