The Rest Is Noise


In 2012 MHM undertook research of the current and potential market for classical and orchestral music in London for London Orchestras Consortium. The London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) put this insight into practice to inform its campaign for The Southbank Centre’s festival The Rest is Noise. The festival ran throughout 2013, and was inspired by Alex Ross’ seminal 2007 book "The Rest Is Noise – listening to the 20th Century".

With more than 30 concerts, the LPO forms the backbone of the festival. 

With such a challenging year-long festival approaching, we were very aware that we would need to find significant numbers of new audiences to supplement our loyal core bookers, and to find a way of really drawing them into this 20th-century festival of music. Our work with Morris Hargreaves McIntyre on Culture Segments gave us a great insight into our key audience segments and helped to crystallise for us how and where we should be communicating to each segment so as not to alienate them and to ultimately motivate them to book.

- Kath Trout, Marketing Director, LPO

Print campaign - The Centurion

The festival plotted moments in history throughout the century providing key events in politics and music as a rich source of hooks and stories. 

As well as digital and social media platforms, the LPO wanted to produce a different and unusual kind of print that would be optimsed to attract and meet the needs of both Stimulation and Essence – that was totally unlike their regular season print. And it needed to be a format that could be refreshed throughout the year-long festival, remaining relevant and sustaining interest.  

The LPO's subsequent "Centurion" newspaper was a fictitious newspaper that could have been published during the century that the music explores.  It focused primarily on these additional non-musical hooks (the historical and political context). Its quirkiness and content is designed to appeal particularly to the Stimulation segment. But it also took to heart the needs of the core, knowledgable Essence segment ensuring they would find the historical articles informative, as well as being clearly able to pick out the basic concert information if that’s all they need.

Full of historical and political background to the music the LPO was performing and a whole range of interesting sources, this format has lent itself to hugely creativewriting – never ‘salesy’ – always informative so not alienating to Essence. 

It is quirky and humorous and provides Stimulation with all the hooks, context and reasons to engage with these concerts. The content is intelligent and engaging – for those who want to expand their knowledge of how events influenced the music of the time, this publication provides an extension to the programme itself.

@LPOrchestra @southbankcentre The Centurion newspaper is possibly the best piece of PR material I've ever seen #restisnoise

- Twitter


The LPO's distribution was also informed by the target segments. As well as regular outlets, The Centurion was distributed to key venues known to be favoured by Essence. 

It was included in bags distributed at the V&A Friday Lates and Royal Academy Lates as these were known to attract Stimulation.

Also designed to grab the attention of Stimulation it also lent itself to costumed hand-to-hand distribution stunts - using the historical theme of the particular publication with costumed distributes targeting Stimulation at stations and other selected locations.

The LPO also used the print campaign to drive people online for audio-clips and to social media platforms, encouraging discussion, peer reviews and online word-of-mouth.  

Impacts and outcomes

The result of using Culture Segments has been a shiftin thinking. Understanding, based on sound research and insight, has enabled amuch freer and more creative approach to a traditional medium – printedcollateral and its distribution.

The LPO and the Southbank Centre have found inventive ways to gain the attention of the Stimulation segment and cross their radar. And provide all the impetus to retain interest andstimulate their desire to participate. At the same time, they have avoided patronising Essence with overt marketing speak, instead providing interesting reading and the spring board for further discovery and in-depth engagement – at the same time as providing clearly displayed, comprehensive listings information.

And as for the hard numbers, the average capacity in recent years for LPO’s concerts of mixed repertoire has been 77%. In a year of 20th century music it was expected to be more challenging and therefore for capacities to be lower. However the LPO in fact exceeded these figures with an average of 79% across the year.

Data Director Medwen has overall responsibility for the quality of the quantitative data that Morris...