Campaign in Review: How Australia’s Biggest Arts Festival Launched a ‘Fringe Deals’ Campaign that Invigorated Local Business and the South Australian Economy

Thu, Nov 16 2023
For more than six decades, the Adelaide Fringe has been a beacon of arts and culture, drawing in thousands from across the world to revel in the city’s electric energy and wonder. But beyond the stages and exhibitions, there's a major consideration from the organisation behind the festival to maximise the impact of the audiences and tourism generated as a result of Adelaide Fringe. In partnership with the City of Adelaide the introduction of the 'Fringe Deals' campaign that adopted the cheeky slogan “Show us Your Tix” was not just an attempted stroke at bridging art with commerce but also a shining example of how a major festival can boost tourism and give parallel businesses a chance to thrive.
Looking down at people walking on the road down the street in front of businesses. Some people are sitting.
East End. Photo: Samuel Graves, Adelaide Fringe 2023
A Campaign Tailored to Boost Local Businesses
In the bustling backdrop of the Adelaide Fringe, many businesses indirectly benefit from the influx of tourists. Yet, the 'Fringe Deals' campaign turned this passive benefit into an active collaboration by harnessing two key functions:

  1. A Spotlight on Parallel Businesses: By partnering with local businesses, from quaint cafes to boutique stores, the campaign offered special deals for festival ticket holders, Fringe Members and the more than 6000 artists participating in Adelaide Fringe. This incentivized tourists to explore more South Australian businesses and more of South Australia, turning their visit into an immersive cultural experience.

  2. A Tourism Market at Their Doorstep: With the Fringe's extensive reach and reputation, local businesses didn't need to invest heavily to attract tourists. The 'Fringe Deals' served as a bridge, making it easier for them to access and benefit from the vast tourism market generated by the festival.

Ripple Effects on the South Australian Economy
The 'Fringe Deals' campaign was more than just about boosting sales; it was about invigorating an entire economy. Here's a snapshot of its impact:

  • Increased Spending: With tourists keen on availing the deals, which has seen a surge in spending in local businesses. Adelaide Fringe’s economic impact for 2023 indicated increased spending by tourists to $3420 up from $2258 in 2022. Year on year this metric has increased exponentially from $912 in 2019. 

  • Job Opportunities: The influx of patrons meant more hands on deck. Many businesses expanded their workforce, even if temporarily, to cater to the increased demand. In 2023, 9813 direct and indirect jobs were created as a result of the Adelaide Fringe, these include those jobs created within local businesses to accommodate the increased tourism footprint. 

  • Promoting South Australia: With businesses offering unique local products and services, tourists got a taste of the authentic South Australian experience, encouraging repeat visits and positive word-of-mouth.

Josh Talbot, from East End bar NOLA said, “Being able to directly integrate with the increased activity in the city at the time of Fringe has allowed us to extend that Fringe atmosphere from the streets and into our venue at Nola, it makes going from a show to a business feel like a connected experience and the result of this for us has been booming trade during February and March.”

Tapping into a New Demographic

For many local businesses, especially those not directly related to arts and culture, the festival season was previously just a time of increased footfall. The 'Fringe Deals' campaign, however, provided them a golden opportunity to tap into a demographic they wouldn't typically reach - culture seekers and arts enthusiasts.

Increased Social Media and Media Attention

By creating more experiences for Fringe-related tourists to engage with, Adelaide Fringe noticed significantly more tags and mentions on social media as a result, and while this also elevated the social media activity for local businesses utilising the Fringe Deals program, the overarching interaction for Adelaide Fringe saw the brand ranked as the 7th most mentioned Australian brand on Instagram in 2023, meaning Fringe had more impact to continue communicating and champion South Australia and South Australian business, with this increased brand awareness expected to create greater impact in 2024. 

The 'Fringe Deals' campaign is a testament to the vision of Adelaide Fringe - one that sees arts not just in isolation but as a part of a larger community ecosystem. By connecting tourists with local businesses, the campaign showcased how festivals can activate their already existing tourism base to engage with local businesses.  

As we look to future editions of Adelaide Fringe, the success of the 'Fringe Deals' serves as a shining example, guiding us towards more such initiatives that uplift every facet of the City of Adelaide and wider South Australia.