Big Heritage’s Sick To Death Launch

Attraction launch


No Brainer was appointed by Big Heritage to help raise awareness of a unique new family attraction called ‘Sick to Death’ being installed within Chester’s historic Water Tower. Launching in August 2016, the interactive exhibit aimed to shock, thrill and educate visitors of all ages. The key objectives for No Brainer were:

  • To position Sick to Death within local and regional media as educational – but gory! – new attraction in Chester city centre
  • To build public interest and intrigue ahead of the official launch in August
  • To increase awareness of Big Heritage and its work bringing history to life within Chester
  • To help drive visitor entries upon launch


Working alongside Big Heritage, No Brainer devised a cost-effective marketing and communications campaign that focused predominantly on shared and earned media channels (i.e. social and PR/media relations). Big Heritage planned to include a plague doctor exhibit within the Sick to Death attraction and worked with No Brainer to make this iconic character synonymous with the attraction and drive public interest. The tactics employed were as follows:

Phase 1

  • No Brainer and Big Heritage recruited a small group of Chester-based residents/friends to support a social media drive for the campaign, including the influential blogger @ShitChester
  • Through these partners, a series of photographs and short video clips of the mysterious plague doctor roaming around Chester city centre were released through both Twitter and Facebook to spark public and media interest ahead of the official launch. Released in two waves, the images content went viral, making national/regional headlines and driving social traffic that eventually led to international attention.

Phase 2

  • Capitalising on the interest created through phase 1, a news release was issued to local, regional, national and selected international media to reveal that Big Heritage was behind the plague doctor as part of a new exhibition – Sick to Death – supported by Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) and Wellcome
  • Further news releases were issued to key media targets before the official launch of the attraction to reveal more details (i.e. Wellcome funding, CWaC lease agreement) in order to continue to build on the momentum created through Phase 1
  • A ‘behind-the-scenes’ event was organised exclusively for the media just days before the official launch. Influential targets attended the event outlets to see the attraction, resulting in a final spike of media coverage, including regional TV profile on ITV Granada, at a crucial time.


  • 67 media cuttings over the course of the campaign including pieces in the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, Atlas Obscura, Liverpool Daily Echo, Chester Chronicle and on the popular online content site UNILAD
  • Broadcast coverage on ITV Granada, BBC Radio Merseyside and Dee 106.3
  • Almost seven million opportunities to see (OTS) in total
  • £177,000 achieved in advertising value equivalent (AVE) terms
  • 550 visitors in the first ten days after opening
  • Media coverage 100% positive in sentiment
  • Key messages included in 100% of media coverage, positioning S2D as major Chester attraction, promoted the work of the Grosvenor Museum, support of CWaC and generous funding and support via Wellcome
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