Engaging the nation with the relevance of shared stories
Shakespeare: the most produced and studied playwright in the world. His stories are our stories, reimagined by diverse artists. They connect us to our humanity and question our social and interpersonal dynamics. But, how do you connect our modern experience to a writer who died 400 years ago?
What was the challenge?
The Folger Shakespeare Library is home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, serving students, scholars, artists and educators from around the world. As the anchor institution for the U.S. commemoration of this international event, the Folger sought to: engage millions about Shakespeare’s relevance, transform how Shakespeare is taught, and celebrate collaboration between artists in all mediums and the Bard.
What did we do?
MG and the Folger partnered to conduct national research to understand people’s connection and barriers to connecting with Shakespeare. From there we developed a message framework and a year-long national communication campaign. Through partnerships, promotions and engagement programs, we worked with the Folger to provide millions in the U.S. the opportunity to engage with the greatest storyteller of all time. Audience members in nearly every state engaged with Shakespeare content through the National Theatre Partnership program and the tour of the first Folio–“the book that brought us Shakespeare” and one of the most valuable in the world–with an interactive exhibit. Teacher training institutes engaged thousands of teachers. Media partnerships fueled a national ad campaign and feature stories throughout the year. Fifty NPR stations ran Shakespeare in American Life. Two additional exhibits opened at the Folger in D.C. and at the L.A. Public Library. iTunes launched a branded Shakespeare 400th room featuring books, music, podcasts, movies and links to the celebration. It culminated with a national live broadcast, “The Wonder of Will: LIVE” of celebrities, Supreme Court justices and award-winning writers, telling their Shakespeare story.
Millions of people engaged with Shakespeare live, in the media and through social media. Nearly 600,000 people attended “The Wonder of Will” exhibits and events. Over 1.8 million unique visitors engaged with content on the campaign site. Over 7,000 media stories were placed, from The New York Times and The New Yorker to the BBC and CBS Sunday Morning, creating over 300 million impressions, combined with the ad campaign. Nearly 4,000 teachers participated in workshops to transform how Shakespeare is taught. Millions were engaged through social media partnerships and sharing their Shakespeare story at #MySHX400.This campaign reminded us that Shakespeare belongs to all of us, that his world is vast, and that it explores the imagination and the human heart.
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