Robert Dovers Olimpick Games
Robert Dovers Olimpick Games

Reborn: Robert Dover's Cotswold Olimpick Games

Recognised as the forerunner to the Modern Olympics, Robert Dover's Cotswold Olimpick Games are a 406-year-old tradition. The Games take place every year in the great outdoors on the Friday after Spring Bank Holiday – and here at Shuttlefish, following a year's absence of the Games, we were tasked with the challenge of helping to bring it back to life by reinventing its image and creating a contemporary brand to appeal to the next generation of shin-kickers.

The challenge

Reinvigorate an ageing yearly event, appeal to the next generation and increase awareness and ticket sales.

The solution

Create a contemporary brand, promote the games via social media, introduce technology to facilitate increased ticked sales.

The results:

 

6,500

Website visitors in 3 months

18,000

Clicks from Google searches

>3000 ticket sales

300%

Increase in Facebook likes

A bit of history:

Norfolk-born solicitor, author and wit, Robert Dover, moved to a village near Chipping Campden in 1611 following a stint at Cambridge University. Just a year later in 1612, Dover established the first-ever Cotswold Games – possibly based on the Gog Magog Games held annually outside Cambridge in the 16th and 17th centuries – and presided over them for forty years. The Games brought all classes of society together and got everyone active, two purposes that still stand today.

The site on which these Games were held was subsequently named Dover's Hill! This beautiful natural amphitheatre sits on the edge of the small Gloucestershire market town of Chipping Campden in Weston Subedge, overlooking the Vale of Evesham and the plains of the Avon and the Severn, all the way across to the foothills of the Welsh mountains, making it an ideal setting for open air games.

Dover's Hill was bought by the National Trust in 1928 and the Games were revived for the 1951 Festival of Britain, returning to be a regular event in 1965. In 2017, the Games unfortunately couldn't go ahead, but 2018 saw them come back with a bang! And here we are today.

This year's Games took place on Friday 1st June, kindly sponsored by Hayman-Joyce and Mill House nursing home – and after a break last year, we're pleased to say it was a huge success. Attractions included such time-honoured pursuits as the World Shin-kicking Championships, Champion of the Hill and tug o' war, alongside exhibitions of backsword fighting, jousting and morris dancing. Better yet, there was also live music and fire eaters on the hill, along with a choice of high-quality catering. The evening's proceedings concluded with the traditional fire and fireworks display followed by the torchlit procession to the town square to continue the revelries – with live music from Get Carter, more delicious food and a chance to sample the Games' own beer, Shinkicker ale.

 

How Shuttlefish helped to make the Cotswold Olimpicks current

Previously, there had never been a campaign plan or artwork template used to advertise the Games, so the first job was to outline what we were going to do and when, then we had to implement that plan effectively to sell all the tickets and raise enough money to cover any remaining costs of this non-profit event, with any proceeds going back into the pot for next year's Games.

We wanted to give the Games a more youthful feel to attract a younger audience as after all, they'll be the next generation to continue this tradition. With this in mind, we created a clean, fresh and contemporary brand brought into the 21st century that still referenced its rich history.

Robert Dovers Olimpick Games

After creating a new logo, finding suitable typefaces and identifying our desired style, we revitalised the website, created posters, flyers, billboards and brochures, advertised on the local radio and in community newspapers, and even designed a new pump tag for the Games' own beer, Shinkicker.

We gave the Dover's Games social platforms a new lease of life, helping to build anticipation, drum up interest in ticket sales, and to document the evening's events, something that hadn't been done before in such a way. Tickets had never been sold online before either, so we created a new system to offer this service, with a digital scanner at a dedicated gate for swift entry on the day – and it worked, with a large proportion of tickets sold in advance!

The weather looked ominous all week leading up to the Games, with thunderstorms predicted to spoil the meticulously-planned event. Thankfully, the inclement weather held off and the Cotswold Olimpicks went ahead as planned, with a grand total of 4,000 people turning up to witness this time-honoured tradition on Dover’s Hill!

If you missed out on this year’s event then be sure to keep an eye out for next year’s announcements, with Robert Dover’s Cotswold Olimpick Games scheduled to take place on Friday 31st May. Put the date in your diary and join us on the Hill with your families and friends for a memorable evening and help us maintain a truly unique Cotswold tradition. It may be wise to start practicing for your chosen event pretty soon...

  • ‘Amazing job, hats off to the committee, volunteers and all involved… loved it.’ – Preetha, Facebook
  • ‘What a great night, thank you.’ – Jane, Facebook
  • ‘Fantastic fun.’ – Julie, Facebook

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