‘David Bowie is’ exhibition at the V&A

‘David Bowie is’ exhibition at the V&A


This comprehensive case study explores the process and planning of a large-scale exhibition's marketing campaign from its objectives and target audience through to a percentage breakdown of campaign costs, outcomes and recommendations.


The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art and design with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity. It was established to make works of art available to all and to inspire British designers and manufacturers. Today, the V&A’s collections, which span over 2,000 years of human creativity in virtually every medium and from many parts of the world, continue to intrigue, inspire and inform. The V&A is home to the National Collection for the Performing Arts.

The V&A was given unprecedented access to the David Bowie Archive to curate the first international retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie - one of the most pioneering and influential performers of modern times.

'David Bowie is' explored the creative processes of Bowie as a musical innovator and cultural icon, tracing his shifting style and sustained reinvention across five decades. More than 300 objects were brought together for the very first time, including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, music videos, set designs, Bowie’s own instruments and album artwork.

Marketing campaign objectives


  • Achieve an exhibition visitor target of 230,000


  • Position the V&A as a world-class venue for performance exhibitions
  • Attract new music, fashion and performance fans who haven't been to the V&A and/or are non-museum going audiences
  • Aid sponsor objectives

Target audience

  • Core V&A exhibition visitors
  • Adults 50% female, 50% male, 40+
  • David Bowie fanatics
  • Music professionals, enthusiasts and concert/gig attendees
  • Film buffs and theatre goers
  • Students 18+ particularly fashion, textiles, product, film, photography, graphic, interior design, theatre and performance


The campaign incorporated both above and below the line activity to ensure the widest possible reach amongst the target audience.

Activity was planned to capitalise on the opening period after the extensive press coverage with further coverage throughout the exhibition and a last chance burst to drive attendance in the final weeks. This initially included national press advertising throughout the campaign and last chance to see National Rail 4 sheets. However, due to all advance online tickets selling out within the first month of opening, we no longer needed this additional advertising for the exhibition.

Outdoor activity focused coverage around London and the South East to target in proximity to the exhibition. However, press, radio and online extended nationally to reflect the stature of the exhibition and drive domestic tourists.

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David Bowie is exhibition at the V&A (PDF)

Resource type: Case studies | Published: 2013