How we built the Gromit Unleashed brand

Howard Lake | 8 August 2014 | Blogs

How did a trail of giant Gromits grow so big?
Two years ago, Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal faced the enormous challenge of raising £3.5 million to support the expansion of Bristol Children’s Hospital. In just eighteen months we exceeded that amount; we have now raised £4.5 million to date and increased our target to £5 million.

Gromits Unleashed at Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol

Gromits Unleashed at Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol


Gromit Unleashed hits the streets

Our fundraising success has been spearheaded by the charity’s inspiring Gromit Unleashed campaign, which saw 80 giant sculptures of Aardman’s iconic character Gromit take up residence last year in Bristol and the area, in a major public arts trail to raise funds for the children’s hospital.

Famous names on-board

Gromit Unleashed
Supported by an eclectic mix of artists and a host of famous names, including Nick Park, Disney Pixar, Cath Kidston, Joanna Lumley, Harry Hill, Zayn Malik, Jools Holland, Sir Peter Blake and many more, who each decorated their own 5ft high Gromit statue, the Gromit Unleashed trail took the nation by storm.
• Gromit Unleashed contributed a record breaking £123 million to the local economy
• 1.2 million visitors took part in the trail
• £2.3million raised from the auction for Bristol Children’s Hospital
• 1.7 million hits on the Gromit Unleashed website
• 45,000 downloads of the Gromit Unleashed app which reached No. 1 in the iTunes App chart
• 25,000 people visited ‘The Greatest Dog Show on Earth’ exhibition
• Gromit Unleashed Hong Kong, a summer exhibition of giant Gromit sculptures based on the original Bristol trail, recently launched at the city’s prestigious Elements shopping mall.

Gromit Unleashed

Gromit Unleashed. (l-r) Gromits by Paul Smith, Cath Kidston, Richard Williams and Simon Tofield.

From Gromit Unleashed to global phenomenon

What started out as a simple idea has grown beyond all expectation to a global attraction, with Gromit Unleashed now established as a unique charity brand and international export.
Gromit Unleashed was created to help the Grand Appeal raise £3.5 million in 18 months towards the expansion of the Bristol Children’s Hospital – a big step up from our normal fundraising income of around £1 million per year.

Aardman Productions' Nick Park with Gromit

Aardman Productions’ Nick Park with Gromit

Gromit Unleashed harnessed the worldwide fame of one of the charity’s ambassadors, Gromit, to create a ground-breaking sculpture trail, the first of its kind to use a famous character.

The strategic approach

• The charity and Aardman approached international artists and celebrities to come on board to raise the profile of the project
• We enlisted the support of 80 businesses to sponsor a sculpture and underwrite the full costs of the project
• We produced trail maps, passports and an interactive app to harness the ‘inner collector’ in us all
• We teamed up with national and local visitor organisations to encourage tourists to come to Bristol
• We produced a range of unique souvenirs, including highly collectable Gromit Unleashed figurines, so that everyone could own a little bit of the project for themselves.
• The communications campaign emphasised the personality of Gromit as an individual rather than a dog and positioned Nick Park at the heart of the project.
• A compelling marketing and multi-channel communications campaign, including social media platforms, was implemented to build public anticipation and draw media attention.
• Throughout the trail, the city was filled with people Gromit-spotting, including fundraisers who cycled, ran, morris danced and painted their way around the sculptures.
• In September, the trail was followed by ‘The Greatest Dog Show on Earth’ exhibition, The ‘pup-up’ gallery attracted over 25,000 visitors in just six days and proved to be a turning point – the charity trail had now become a phenomenon.
• In October, the sculptures were sold at auction by ex-Sotherby’s chairman and TV presenter Tim Wonnacott for a staggering £2.3million

Building the Gromit Unleashed brand

Gromit Unleashed exhibition

Gromit Unleashed exhibition

Gromit Unleashed fundraising auction

Gromit Unleashed fundraising auction

Gromit Unleashed's auction total with Nick Park

Gromit Unleashed’s auction total with Nick Park

Gromit Unleashed created prestige and community pride, resulting in a huge swell of public fundraising, goodwill and support for the Grand Appeal.
The success of Gromit Unleashed has led to an established charity brand with a growing range of exclusive merchandise including collectable and highly sought-after Gromit figurines, continuing to raise funds for the Grand Appeal. We operate this unique retail arm from our hugely successful online shop alongside an in-store presence at the Gromit Unleashed shop, situated at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol, which continues to attract thousands of fans and customers from the area and throughout the UK.
The campaign has also attracted attention from across the globe, with countries eager to showcase the initiative. Gromit Unleashed Hong Kong is the first exhibition to take place outside of the UK and sets the stage for further overseas opportunities.
The world-wide interest in Gromit Unleashed has enabled the Grand Appeal to reach way beyond our regional donor base and receive support from across the UK and abroad, an area we are continuing to explore.
Gromit Unleashed

Where Gromit goes, sheep follow

As director of the Grand Appeal, I am thrilled and excited to see the charity develop in this way. We look forward to building on the success of Gromit Unleashed and drawing on all our experience, to bring you the baa-rilliant ‘Shaun in the City’ featuring Aardman’s internationally-acclaimed character Shaun the Sheep art trails in 2015.
Nicola Masters is Director at Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal.

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