If you visited anywhere from Leith to Memorial Park in Meaford last summer, you may have noticed one of Meaford’s Brobdingnagian Muskoka chairs.

Meaford's Bodell family in one of Meaford's Big Red Chairs
Meaford’s Bodell family share one of Meaford’s Big Red Chairs

Simply put, they’re the “best seats in Ontario”. Last summer, Meaford set up 10 bright-red Muskoka chairs at attractions and scenic locations across the Municipality. In addition to providing family-size seating and photo-ops, each chair included a panel with information about local history and nearby attractions, along with a map inviting them to tour the other chairs.

The Big Red Chairs Tour was a big success, and Meaford nabbed the Economic Development Council of Ontario’s marketing award of excellence for Public Private Partnership 2017.

EDCO’s criteria included the extent to which the collaboration and/or partnership formed in the planning, development, and finance; demonstrated economic benefit to the community; and the creativity and innovation in packaging the project.

The tour began in 2015 when Economic Development Officer, Stephen Murray, asked Drew Ferris, a tech teacher at Georgian Bay Secondary School, for help. Ferris got his class to scale up some plans for some ordinary-sized Muskoka chairs and build them. Last year, they built three more, and Scott Gooch, of Bayview Escarpment Fine Furniture and Cabinetry, contributed another two.

MyFavouriteMarketer was pleased to be a part of the Tour. After the first season’s deployment, we sat down with Murray to brainstorm how to make the most of the chairs. Murray suggested that each chair include a panel inviting visitors to continue “The Big Red Chair Tour”.

“The idea was to connect various attractions, to keep people in Meaford longer,” says Murray. “Our plan hit many of Meaford’s strategic priorities, including expanding tourism and promoting all areas of the municipality.” (Four of the chairs were welcomed at non-municipally-owned locations, and after last year’s success, each location as re-upped for the coming summer.)

Stephen Murray, Meaford Economic Development Officer, shows off the EDCO for tourism marketing
Stephen Murray, Meaford Economic Development Officer, shows off the EDCO for tourism marketing

Copywriting, design and creative ideas boost marketing campaign

Working with Jonny Kearns of enclave design in Collingwood and contributions from Allison Kennedy Davies, myFavouriteMarketer prepared and designed individual panels for each chair. We also prepared a brochure promoting the Tour, which was distributed to dozens of day-trip locations throughout the region by the Georgian Triangle Tourist Association.

“It’s such a great feeling to drive by the Big Red Chairs and see families with all their kids and even the dog together for a family picture,” says Mayor Barb Clumpus. “It’s an honour for the tour to be recognized, as the chairs are quickly becoming part of the scenic landscape of Meaford.”

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