In 2008, the de Young was suffering from a prolonged negative attendance trend. Iron was selected to help turn the tide.

The Challenge
After a blockbuster opening in 2005, the de Young had experienced a decline in attendance of nearly 10% every four months, continuing through the spring of 2007. With no exhibitions of note coming up, the summer looked bleak. Iron was hired to create some new “brand buzz,” and more importantly, reverse the declining trend in attendance.
Through analysis of competitors and key offerings, as well as conversations with board members and other stakeholders, Iron distilled the museum’s primary differentiator. The bold juxtaposition of different collections, the uniquely unpretentious, welcoming atmosphere, the expansive windows incorporating the park outside – it all pointed to a fearless, convention-be-damned intersection of art, people and nature.
deYoung Brand Campaign

The mass awareness campaign leveraged print, transit and many other placements – with the street banners garnering praise from City Hall.

Chihuly Exhibit

While the Chihuly exhibit was well established on a national stage, we introduced some subtle additions to various materials – including an angular die cut referencing glass. Those additions were later picked up in other markets.

Legion of Honor Brand Campaign

With its remote location, Legion visitors faced a travel burden. But we dug in and found that the only other place to find the classic artists featured was in Europe. Which made the location a relative selling point.

Marie Antoinette Exhibit

By bringing the controversy of Marie Antoinette's life to the forefront, we were able to expand the appeal beyond the usual suspects.

The results
During a four-month period, Iron played a central role in a dramatic turn-around – monthly attendance rose by 12% (a 22% reversal). The profile of the success story lead to a much broader relationship including the deYoung, The Legion of Honor, The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and ultimately, Art SF ’08 and ’09 – a nationally publicized, joint effort incorporating our existing museum clients, as well as the SF MoMa, The Asian Art Museum and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
Negative 12% monthly attendance trend before Iron’s campaign.
Increase of 12% monthly attendance trend during Iron’s campaign.
The campaign received the AMA’s Excellence in Marketing Award.