Zero-Waste Marketing

Let’s re-cap the basic facts, okay?

  • The average flyer weighs about 6 grams.

  • This year at the Fringe there were over 4,300 shows.

  • The Fringe recommends shows ‘think in the low thousands’ when ordering flyers.

Taking the lowest possible end estimate of that – that shows average at just 1,000 flyers each – let’s now do the maths.

6 x 4,300 x 1,000 = 25,8000,000 grammes = 25.8 tonnes

There are nearly 26 tonnes of paper waste generated at the Fringe from flyers alone – at a very low end estimate. In reality, anecdotal evidence suggests we’re looking at an average of closer to 5,000 flyers per show. Which would put the amount of paper waste generated. From flyers ALONE. At almost 130 tonnes.


So, at the Greenhouse this year, we set out to show that generating all that paper waste isn’t the only way to successfully market your shows. And with over 2,000 tickets sold and over 160,000 engagements through our social media, we think we might be on to something. Here are just some examples of what we got up to. Feel free to nick them – or use them to make other, new and crazy ideas!

If you’re thinking about joining the revolution and helping to make the Fringe a greener place…well, you’re in luck! We’re currently recruiting for a new Head of Marketing and Deputy Head of Marketing to join The Greenhouse’s team. Click here to head to the Greenhouse’s website and find out more about these awesome roles!

  1. Tablets

The most direct comparison between what we did and typical marketing techniques was our use of tablets. We bought 6, second-hand Samsung Note tablets which our street team used on the Royal Mile throughout the Fringe. These tablets served two purposes – firstly, they allowed our street team to connect to a page on our website, where audience members could input their email and be immediately sent a copy of our electronic brochure. Potential audiences then had all the information they could possibly want about The Greenhouse – its location, our shows, our workshop schedule – available to them at the touch of a button.

Secondly, the tablets had two pages of the brochure downloaded on them – a map to the venue, and our listings information. Potential audience members who didn’t want to give their email could simply take a photo with their phone of both of these images on the tablet. That way, they had all the information they needed to come and see shows at The Greenhouse!

It’s worth noting that we spent £120 to buy these 6 tablets – far less money than we spent ordering flyers for our 10-day run at the Fringe in 2018.

  1. Recycling

What is the opposite of generating tonnes of paper waste by ordering lots of flyers? Making sure those flyers that are purchased get recycled, of course! As well as the tablets, our street team was armed with three used wheelie bins. Passers-by were invited to recycle any flyers that they were finished with in our dedicated bins – we then ensured that all of these flyers were recycled.

This was a really fantastic way of starting a conversation with audience members – most people at the Fringe aren’t used to you approaching them and asking if they want YOU to take THEIR flyers!


  1. Quality over Quantity

This is kind of not really a strategy so much as something we noticed as the Fringe went on. The biggest issues with flyers is how they operate as a call to action. Is a flyerer’s job to get people to come and see a show? Or is it to hand out flyers? What are they asking that passer-by to do? In theory, it’s definitely the former, but in reality at the Fringe it often becomes the latter. In the craziness of everyone yelling and trying to drum up an audience, it becomes almost second nature to fall back on the fact that if a passer-by didn’t stop to talk to you, at least they took a flyer.

Undoubtedly, we were in contact with far fewer people than we would have been if we were handing out flyers. However, we found that our conversion between people-we-speak-to and people-who-buy-tickets was also much higher than it had been in the past. By doing away with the flyers, we got rid of the fall-back, meaning we were forced to actively engage people in a conversation about our project and our shows. We took the time to ensure that every member of the street-team was well informed and well educated on both, so they could spark enthusiasm in potential audience members. All of this meant we had a far lower quantity of engagement, but a much higher quality of engagement.

  1. Digital (not print)

There are a lot of opportunities for different types of advertisements at The Fringe. In the past, we have taken out a number of different print and digital ads. This year, we transitioned completely to digital adverts. It’s not only a very simple change, but an obvious one considering that this project in particular was targeting younger audiences, who tend to spend more time online anyway. We advertised on various websites, including the Fringe website, and a number of different publications.

One area of compromise we did make here was appearing in the Fringe brochure – each of our 8 individual shows had its own listing in the Fringe Brochure. At the moment, we are researching the marketing implications of not appearing in the print brochure, but electing to appear only in the digital brochure. We will share our findings!

  1. Social

We are a young company, so we hope we have a fairly strong grasp on advertising through social media. As well as a strong social media presence – ensuring that all of our social platforms are regularly updated with good content, and that those platforms are more geared towards content creation than just flogging tickets – we spent money on advertising through social media. This took up a very significant part of the job of our Head of Marketing (about half of her time). It’s not something to be sniffed at, and we found it was very worth putting the time in to.

A significant proportion of our target demographic are heavily influenced in their buying habits through social media. The level of engagement and referrals that we received to our website through our social presence showed this to have been an effective stategy and use of time.


Well, there we have it, the key strategies that we used to deliver an effective zero-waste marketing campaign at the Edinburgh Fringe 2020! Found that interesting? Got questions about how it worked? Want to chat about it? Well, you can contact us here if you fancy a chat. And of course, if you want to help make our zero-waste marketing campaign even more kick-ass for next year, remember we’re currently recruiting for a new Head of Marketing and Deputy Head of Marketing! With these roles, we’re very much looking for passion and drive over experience, so if you care about the environment and how theatre can help protect it, send us an application by heading to our website here!

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