During Autumn 2016, an extraordinary nine-week sculpture trail, Snowdogs by the Sea, hit the streets of Brighton & Hove with visitors to the trail, contributing over £10million to the local economy. Visitor numbers were in excess of 350,000 with more than 14.6 million social media impressions for the hashtag #brightonsnowdogs and media coverage worth over £450,000. However, most importantly of all, Snowdogs by the Sea raised £310,000 for Martlets Hospice and achieved an unprecedented level of awareness for this local charity which provides a vital community service.

Imelda Glackin, Chief Executive for Martlets Hospice, said: “We are so grateful to the Brighton and Hove community for their enthusiasm throughout the Snowdog campaign. The engagement we have seen from individuals and local businesses has been phenomenal. We set out to create something that would bring life to the city, inspiring people to get involved with Martlets and to connect with the story of The Snowman and the Snowdog – a tale of loss, love, memories and kindness at its heart, which mirrors our work at the hospice. The fundraising success we have seen as a result of the art trail has been incredible.”

Wild in Art, one of the UK’s leading creative producers of public art events, organised the event alongside Martlets Hospice, and commissioned NGI Solutions to conduct a survey to evaluate the impact of the trail. What is clear from the research is that the people of Brighton and Hove, across all age ranges, took the Snowdogs to their hearts. At the end of the trail, over ten thousand people watched the auction live on the Snowdogs by the Sea Facebook page and six thousand flocked to the farewell event to say goodbye. One hundred percent of B&H residents said they were proud to have the trail in their area, with 99% of visitors to the trail, rating their experience as excellent or good.

However, the trail also attracted visitors from outside of the city and 19% of respondents stayed overnight whilst visiting the trial. Having a Snowdog at Victoria Station during the first seven weeks of the trail may also have helped promote visits from London and the South East. Interestingly, the trail also encouraged locals to explore their own city, as 42% visitors from B&H said that they had visited a new attraction or place as a result of visiting the trail.

Howard Barden, Head of Tourism, VisitBrighton, said: “We were delighted to support the trail as it gave visitors a new reason to come to the city outside of the main summer season. The trail was a great incentive to get people to explore different areas of Brighton & Hove and of course everyone fell in love with the adorable Snowdogs!”

Sponsors of the event, which included both local and national brands and organisations, got behind the trail to achieve their own campaign targets; ranging from staff engagement & corporate responsibility objectives, to increased footfall and sales. The Snowdogs by the Sea APP proved highly popular, with over 125,000 scans of each Snowdog’s unique ‘QR’ code, which ‘unlocked’ special offers from its sponsor. These ‘offers’ ranged from deals & discounts at local restaurants & shops, to unique competitions and prize draws.

Some sponsors took the opportunity to deepen their engagement with Martlets Hospice and developed their own Snowdog themed fundraising events. The ‘Selfie Challenge’ organised by GSFW was a great example of this, as they encouraged businesses across the city to enter teams to race around the city bagging ‘selfies’ with the Snowdogs within an allotted time frame. Not only did the Royal Mail prove that on foot they have unbeatable knowledge of how to get around the city, but in two hours, 12 participating business teams raised over £3,200 for the charity. Many sponsors also made the ultimate commitment to Martlets by bidding for their own Snowdog at auction and giving their unique pooch a permanent home.

One of the more surprising impacts of the Snowdogs by the Sea trail was its effect on health and wellbeing in the city. One in three people questioned had visited the entire trail, with the majority doing so on foot. Infact, the total distance walked around the Snowdog Trail was approximately 2.6 million miles or the equivalent of walking around the earth 105 times! 85% of respondents agreed that the Snowdogs trail had encouraged them to get outdoors more, with 81% saying it encouraged them to walk further than usual. Over the nine week trail, many local running and cycling groups created their own ‘Snowdog’ event so that they could visit each pooch as part of their route. It also had a positive impact on family life with 66% of respondents agreeing that it had encouraged them to spend more time together.

The photogenic nature of the Snowdogs meant that the trail came alive on social media, inspiring visitors to fill their social media channels with their personal interactions with the artistic pooches. Over 60% of visitors posted about the trail on Facebook, with Instagram and Twitter the next most popular. It also appeared in countless blogs and YouTube videos which really helped extend the reach of the campaign and generate a sense of engagement and community. However, although the digital side of the campaign was hugely influential, with 31% of visitors citing ‘Word of Mouth’ as the being the most popular way to find out about the trail, it’s clear that Snowdogs by the Sea was simply the most talked about event of Autumn 2016.

Brighton resident: “I have lived in Brighton for 80 years and I’ve never known a thing that has brought the community together as much as this – everybody is talking about it on the bus, in the supermarket. It’s lovely.”

Excitingly, following the success of Snowdogs by the Sea, the Martlets are delighted to announce that they are working with Wild in Art on another special sculpture trail for Autumn 2018. Speculation on what the sculpture will be has already begun….but organisers aren’t giving anything away until later this year.

For more information and the full NGI report visit Martlets website (www.themartlets.org.uk)