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NC State Fair

When Hurricane Florence shut down the NC State Fairgrounds for the first time in its 166 year history, the odds were stacked against us. Odds don’t scare us.


As the largest event in North Carolina, the NC State Fair draws over one million visitors each year. To effectively manage on-site activations while also attracting new attendees, the NC State Fair needed a partner to increase advanced ticket sale purchases, event attendance, and engagement. Enter Walk West.

Our Strategy

Simply stated, we needed to do fewer things better, so we created an evolved media strategy, offered refreshing creative to prospective attendees, and provided the right exposure at the right time to meet–and exceed–the NC State Fair’s ambitious goals.

What We Did

We reduced the NC State Fair’s traditional media spend and reallocated it to a curated series of digital media buys. Building on insights provided by our Data Science team, we identified meaningful ways to track impressions, optimize paid search keywords, and decrease flights for increased GRP and frequency.

We also understood the way to people’s hearts is through their stomachs, which presented the perfect opportunity to activate pre-ticket sales using a strategic experiential marketing activation. With that, we partnered with food trucks at local farmers markets in four locations across North Carolina for a one day ‘Taste of the State Fair’ event. ‘Taste of the State Fair’ offered free samples of fair-inspired fried food with an advance ticket purchase.

  1. Paid Media Paid Media

    Reallocated traditional media spend to a series of strategic digital media buys, including targeted media investments in optimal geo-targeted areas, programmatic media buys, partnerships, and paid social media. Shortened the flight of the campaign to optimize views.

  2. Video Production Video Production

    On-site filming and production. Additionally, directed and produced social media live-streams from the NC State Fair social channels for Taste of the State Fair and the North Carolina State Fair’s opening day.

  3. Experimental Marketing Experimental Marketing

    Conceptualized, planned, and executed Taste of the State Fair, a weekend event offering free fair food and giveaways with every advanced NC State Fair ticket purchases. Partnered with local farmers markets in four locations across North Carolina.

  4. Public Relations Public Relations

    Conducted traditional media relations efforts to secure placements in targeted local media outlets including print, broadcast, radio, online, and among social media influencers.

  5. Social Media Social Media

    Series of social media live-streams to increase digital engagement and presence across platforms. Provided organic social media support for Taste of the State Fair activation.

  6. Content Strategy Content Strategy

    Aligned content and creative with the paid media strategy for meaningful campaign messaging across all platforms, including paid and organic.

  7. Brand & Creative Brand & Creative

    Refreshed existing NC State Fair creative with new photography and graphic assets that supported the overall brand.


With Hurricane Florence shutting down the NC State fairgrounds for the first time in its 166 year history, the odds were stacked against us. However, our strategy yielded a 5% increase in overall paid attendance and over 3.5 million online engagements. These efforts exceeded the set measurable objectives, catapulted fair attendance, and proved value in deploying a fully integrated campaign to a targeted audience.

  • 10Year Attendance record set
  • 53% Increase in advance eTix sales
  • 96% Increase in paid search ticket sales YoY
  • 37% Increase in paid social ticket sales YoY

“Our communication with Walk West was Amazing. Whether it was texting, phone calls, email – someone was always available to sit down and go through an idea with us and really learn about what makes the fair great.”

Public Information Officer, North Carolina State Fair,
Sarah Ray

Let’s Forge Ahead