Repositioning Libraries for the Future

Carswell Gould (CG) was chosen by Hampshire County Council (HCC) to deliver an integrated communications campaign that would reinvent and strengthen the position of Hampshire libraries.  Working to a tight budget meant county-wide advertising and awareness activity was delivered via a strategy that dovetailed into the council’s own communications activity and Discovery Centre Programme. Exciting, creative and targeted messaging encouraged people to challenge their perception of what and who libraries are for. The year of successful activity culminated in the launch of the new Basingstoke Discovery Centre (BDC).


We wanted to awaken people to the fact the libraries are changing. No longer are they boring, stuffy, dusty places where your’e told to be quiet. Changes have and continue to take place to create a modern and resource-rich experience. HCC libraries and discovery centres offer a huge range, from books to free internet and from computer games to e-reader downloads. Our work had to challenge people’s own perceptions, in order to get them to try their local libraries again and see for themselves what a valuable resource they are. Key performance indicators of our work would be increased visitor numbers, issues and joiners, plus a change in perception.


We conceived and developed creative and key messaging to form the backbone of the years activity. The creative proposition was used consistently to increase recall and understanding and to offer best value to the client.  Additional messaging and content was developed to inform people throughout the county what facilities are available in libraries. Once we had agreed the creative strategy a programme of activity was developed that included:

Media planning and negotiation that spread the budget for best value, covering key locations associated with or close to Hampshire libraries.  Outdoor awareness - billboards, phone boxes, train stations, adshells, banners on concourses, four sheets and buses Internal awareness - lit shopping centre six sheets, banners and branding content shown on big screens, information screen content, lift doors and pull up banners in locations like museums and cinemas. Targeting of newspapers, magazines and local newsletters for adverts and editorial content.  Facebook and online advertising plus serving of content to multiple websites and ePR. Social media to open up the reach and develop relationships with new audiences. Email marketing template development and creation serving content to e-newsletters. Event organisation and experiential marketing opportunities, competition developments and the creation of the ‘Discovery Treasure Trail”. Leaflets, posters, flyers, shelf wobblers and other forms of collateral. Negotiation and development of relationships with key groups and organisations; with the results of free supply of multiple acts and performers, products and vouchers for prize fund, like-for-like promotions and catering and exhibition content.

Basingstoke Discovery Centre:

The key activity CG undertook for HCC was the creation, organisation and delivery of the launch of Basingstoke Discovery Centre launch. We began by running teaser campaigns to intrigue our target audience about what was to going to be happening. We then developed an integrated communications plan for the launch, culminating in an official opening ceremony with a week-long opening event, top and tailed with two days of exciting events, competitions and activities including:

Pre-event publicity tied in with Oktoberfest, an annual family-focused event within Basingstoke.  Advertising in and around Festival Place shopping centre, including billboards, banners, large posters, countdowns, shelf wobblers in stores and adverts in the lifts.  Communication via Festival Place email and web channels, branding on multiple promotional channels including Hampshire County Council websites. Adverts placed in local newspapers and Vue magazine. Adverts were created for local radio. A promotional Facebook advert went live, inviting residents living within 25 miles of Basingstoke to come as VIP guests.

Throughout the two days, shoppers from Festival Place could get their photos taken with Captain Jack Sparrow and Lara Croft. These were then uploaded onto the Discovery Centre’s Facebook page so people could tag themselves. A record of their contact details was kept for the Discovery Centre’s database.

Music was sourced from a variety of local talent. Street dancers, local choirs, dance troops and an acoustic guitarist all took part. Craft workshops and interactive video games were set up to get children involved in their new library and a treasure hunt was set up so they could explore what had changed in the library. Prizes were awarded. 

A ‘Win Christmas’ competition was set up and advertised, encouraging existing and new users to borrow a book, after which they were automatically entered into a draw. The prize package was compiled of gifts donated from stores within Festival Place, which included a snowboard, gym membership and an Xbox. 

Launch event activity included:

Locally-sourced food Promotional lookalikes Gaming experience Discovery Treasure Trail Win Christmas competition  Musical acts - Fat Boyz - break dance, hip-hop and street dancing group Hoolistics Dancer - Bee Varga,  James Mitchell - acoustic guitarist,  The Basingstoke Tappers - a tap dance company. Happy Feet Dance School - a dance company specialising in tap, modern jazz, street  and hip hop. The Basingstoke Area Youth Choir - aged between 11 and 18,  The Basingstoke Academy of Dancing - a dance company that focuses on a variety of dance styles for children and adults. The Basingstoke Ladies Choir - performed on the BBC’s Last Choir Standing,  The Author - Richard Reece, a hip hop artist from Basingstoke Funky Element - Marcus, a rap artist. 

The Results:

In a tough year for libraries nationwide and set against severe cuts, our work helped Hampshire libraries develop and increase its value to the local community. Basingstoke Discovery Centre launch took place over one of the snowiest weeks in UK history, with many people staying indoors. With these considerations in mind, the performance of the campaign excellence and the returns and legacy made our work great value. 


In the first week of opening 13,428 people visited Basingstoke Discovery Centre.

There was a 46% increase in issues of books and other content to users.

There was a 500% increase in people signing up for a library cards. 

The Facebook page received 2,156 page views, 153 likes, 69 interactions with users and on one day, 3,183 page impressions (Nov 1 - Dec 8)

What the client said:

“Working with Carswell Gould on the launch of Basingstoke Discovery Centre was a joy. Their knowledge of media buying and event management coupled with stunning creative and design has meant that the centre was visited by over 13,000 in the first week of opening. 

“Carswell Gould helped us get the most out of a modest budget by finding innovative media opportunities and negotiating the lowest prices on the media they booked. Most importantly they were successful in engaging with local businesses and local groups to encourage them to support the launch of the Discovery Centre. Many thanks.”

Gareth Miller, Marketing Manager Culture Communities and Rural Affairs Hampshire County Council.