White Night

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For the second year running, Visit Victoria selected Hardhat to lead the creative and communications for White Night Melbourne. In 2016 & 2017, Hardhat created content and campaigns, managed social media and produced the website which helped draw a record 550,00 people to the CBD in consecutive years.

2017 AMI Awards Winner - Content Marketing Category


Since its launch in February 2013, White Night Melbourne has become one of Victoria’s biggest events where the city's most iconic buildings are brought to life with spectacular dusk till dawn light shows.

In 2015, The Victorian Major Events Company (VMEC) decided they wanted a more contemporary approach to promoting the event, to ensure that over half a million people would attend and share the event over its 12 hour period.

The brief was to create an integrated marketing campaign that appealed to a wide range of key audiences. While different audience groups have been identified in previous years, the bulk of marketing messages had been designed to appeal to the masses. As a result, past communications hadn’t promoted the variety of activities that are on offer or spoken to the different demographics interested in the event.

Following a competitive pitch, Hardhat was appointed to create White Night’s first digitally-led creative campaign to drive awareness while ensuring Melburnians and visitors could navigate their way through the city’s 12 hour labyrinth of large-scale illuminations, intimate installations and crowd-pleasing live performances.


To address the shift in thinking, Hardhat designed a new website and creative social media strategy. By utilising storytelling and highly targeted content, event communications looked to reach the key audience groups and engage attendees before, during and after the night.

Digital channels also allowed White Night to communicate the diverse range of activities the event offered so to appeal to the varied interests of the broad audience who would consider attending. Given the scale and relative brevity of the event, online channels meant those not able to see it all on the night could still experience what else the festival had while those who decided against going along had their appetite whetted for next year.

The campaign addressed a five-part solution to the brief’s nuanced intricacies:

  • The Sum of its Parts - a storytelling component featuring the untold stories of individual artists and their technical wizardry.
  • Tiered content - translates the content narrative into different formats – from videos to 140-character tweets.
  • New formats for key platforms - a retargeting strategy which ensures high content frequency.
  • Behavioural oriented segmentation - enables every piece of content to appeal to one of four psychographic audiences: ‘young and free’, ‘couples with kids’, ‘older couples’ or ‘interstate and overseas visitors’.
  • Campaign phasing - structures our content into five distinct phases for more considered, meaningful messaging.

The majority of the campaign reach during the ‘teaser’ phase was driven by Facebook, with Instagram providing support via additional reach and frequency. Two thirds of the paid media focus was on the local Victorian market, while a third focused on attracting interstate visitors.

A variety of content was shared across the various platforms, with some particularly successful posts including the cinemagraphs, which helped to build campaign reach, whilst also creating a large pool that could be used for retargeting and building frequency.


White Night 2016 was the most successful on record, with an official attendance of 580,000, hugely surpassing the target of 500,000.

Community management on the night was also a huge contributing factor to the success of the event with social media platforms manned from 7pm to 7am, in order to capture footage of the art and atmosphere of the entire night.

Highlights were then sent straight to the editing room to be created into a showreel, and were published within 12 hours of the event finale. Hardhat's agile turnaround ensured the reel was picked up by mass media, and a social push helped it generate enormous organic reach and a high view completion rate.

Thanks to the multi-pronged approach, we grew White Night’s social media assets significantly. Facebook experienced a 19.92% community growth while Instagram had a massive 64.52% growth and a majority of the activity took place on these two channels. Working with a constrained paid media budget, we managed to achieve a total reach of 2.2 million, with an average frequency of 15.52.



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