A powerful, annual digital marketing campaign that shines a light on Canada's young artists.

Digital Marketing: So You Want To Be An Artist

With the goal of improving its relationship with young Canadians, the National Gallery of Canada approached bv02 to develop an innovative campaign to connect with Millennials in their native environment.

The National Gallery of Canada is “one of the world’s most respected art institutions, revered for its scholarship, applauded for its ability to engage audiences of all ages and all levels of artistic knowledge, and renowned for its exceptional collection of approximately 65,000 works of art.” bv02 worked with the National Gallery of Canada to plan, design and launch a digital campaign that would extend its reach and engagement with a digital generation.

The Idea

bv02 developed So You Want To Be An Artist? – a user generated art contest for 16-19 year olds that leverages the power of social sharing and voting to draw new audiences to the gallery and the arts community in general. bv02 began by developing a contest website that would allow youth to upload submissions and a personal profile and use built-in sharing and voting functionality to get the most votes to win. A good contest requires a highly desirable prize. Finalists of So You Want To Be An Artist? would have their artwork displayed at the National Gallery of Canada for six weeks and the Grand Prize winner received an all expenses paid trip to Ottawa to tour the Gallery and have an in-person portfolio review with the head curator, plus $5,000 in art supplies.


Our promotional campaign relied almost exclusively on social media to attract 16-19 year olds to the contest website to learn more and submit an entry. bv02 carefully crafted an editorial calendar that detailed the content required during each of the three phases of the contest – Submission, Voting and Display. Unique content types that would engage our audience and entice them to share with their personal networks were turned into branded templates that would fuel the Gallery’s social media channels over four months but stay dynamic and fresh each day.

Key contest announcements were selected to be advertised on Facebook to drive students to the website and enter. Although Millennials use many social media tools including Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Snapchat – Facebook’s advertising platform allowed us to be highly targeted to the demographic profile we created for our audience (16-19 year olds in Canada who are interested in drawing, painting and/or photography) at a lower cost than the other platforms. These ads were a significant traffic generator and a key ingredient to our success in this campaign.

Another audience that was instrumental to our success was the adult arts community at large. Through partnerships with CBC and Royal Bank, among others, we engaged with high school art teachers and non-profit arts organizations across Canada to spread the word. bv02 developed a video to promote the campaign and generate interest – which proved to be a successful ‘elevator pitch’ to partners in the arts community.

Iterative Approach

bv02 developed a Dashboard to visualize performance against key indicators which provides contest administrators and Gallery staff with a holistic view of how the contest is progressing in real time. The dashboard captured key information including number of submissions, provincial break down, language breakdown among others.

Since 2011, we continue to gain insight about Millennials and make iterative changes to improve campaign performance. Through those insights, key metrics have increased consistently year over year and the contest continues to be a significant promotional tool to attract youth to the Gallery. Most recently, So You Want To Be An Artist? broke the record for submissions by 25%.

Solutions Provided