polar bears, penguins, sudbury ends of the earth science home science home

Mysteries of the Great Lakes Marketing Guide

Promotional Ideas

Local Promotions
Prizes For Media Partners Or For Contesting
Opening Ideas
Themed Gala Event
Lobby Décor
Media Competition

Local Promotions:

Successful local promotions can have huge impact on attendance. Here are a few ideas to promote Mysteries of the Great Lakes locally.

  • Hire speakers to tour secondary schools to promote environmental careers with the film serving as the basis of each talk.
  • Coordinate a fish release in a local lake to draw attention to threatened species in the Great Lakes. Contact local fish & wildlife authorities before doing so. (Canada: Ministry of Natural Resources / USA: US Fish & Wildlife Service)
  • Host a high-energy science competition to find creative ways to utilize water to generate ‘green’ power
  • Build huge water tanks, or use water cooler containers stacked together, prominently displayed at the entrance to your theatre to give the effect of being filled with water.  Use them to show how much water an average family of four consumes in one day.
  • The wildlife of the Great Lakes is a major storyline in Mysteries of the Great Lakes. Many wildlife education groups in addition to zoos keep live animals for educational purposes. Work with local wildlife education groups to bring in a presentation of live animals/fish from the Great Lakes region.
  • Mysteries of the Great Lakes features stunning scenery of the Great Lakes region – towering cliffs, shorelines, sparkling lakes, and raging rivers abound!  Partner with local tourism agencies as the film is sure to pique interest in Great Lakes tourism, and the tour companies can help promote the film to their clients and in their offices.
  • Outdoor enthusiasts are another key demographic. These are the people who actively spend time in the wilderness hiking, fishing, hunting, canoeing, etc. Partner with a local outdoor outfitter, and don’t forget the scuba dive shops!  With all the underwater photography involved to tell the story of a few of the Great Lakes’ 5,000 shipwrecks, the film goes below the surface in more ways than one!
  • You can’t make a film about the Great Lakes without including some boats.  Partner with a local marina, sailing or canoe club, to host an antique boat show.


Prizes for media partners or for contesting

  • Who wouldn’t want to win a cruise on one of the Great Lakes? The beauty of a cruise around Lake Huron’s Manitoulin Island alone has been compared to a cruise around the Greek Isles. You don’t have to go far from home to experience the exotic!
  • There are plenty of adventure tour companies that offer all-inclusive guided canoe expedition packages for the novice up to expert paddlers. A great prize for those who seek physical challenges!
  • The best way to experience the Great Lakes (or any lake for that matter) is in a canoe or a kayak.  Approach a local dealer or a sponsor to donate a canoe or a kayak. This idea also helps to emphasize the need to move away from motorized watercraft, which add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, and worsen the effects of climate change.
  • How about an all-inclusive trip to experience each of the five Great Lakes?  Partner with a travel agent, and create a luxurious prize package including accommodation at luxury lakeside resorts, tours of vineyards, fine dining, fishing trips, golf outings, spa treatments, and of course a cruise on each of the Great Lakes.
  • Another fun option is to offer a self-directed trip to see all of the mysteries of the Great Lakes featured in the film as a prize. Partner with a travel agent or local tourism bureau and allow the winner to choose from a number of attractive opportunities and dates.
  • Program a themed special exhibition such as Science North’s WaterWorks: Soak Up The Science special exhibition to complement the film and boost package sales. Water is a hot topic for the public today, and this will only increase in coming years.  The need to protect life-sustaining freshwater is the main message of Mysteries of the Great Lakes. See the Key Contacts list for more information about WaterWorks.
  • Work with local water-protection and wildlife conservation organizations to host a special event featuring fun and educational booths and live shows themed to the Great Lakes to increase public awareness of the issues and of the film, Mysteries of the Great Lakes. Consider distributing a coupon for the film or for a discount at the concession stand to those in attendance.


Opening Ideas:

Themed Gala Event:

An elegant gala event is an excellent way to generate word-of-mouth advertising, cultivate your donors and sponsors, and create excitement around the opening of Mysteries of the Great Lakes.  In addition to a screening of Mysteries of the Great Lakes, consider…

  • Feature Great Lakes themed food (eg. Smoked salmon, whitefish, wild rice, fruit grown in the Great Lakes region, etc.)
  • Choose a few popular cocktails to feature and re-name them with a Mysteries of the Great Lakes themed name (eg. “Superior Sunrise,” “Niagara Nectar”). Be sure to include wines from the Great Lakes region as well.
  • Lake-themed décor: fill a birch bark canoe with ice to chill drinks in a visible area behind the bar; bring in a large aquarium with specimens of Great Lakes fish in them; add rocks that would be found on the Great Lakes to a low wide vase, add water and then floating candles for eye-catching centrepieces; play a recording of the sound of crashing waves outside to set the mood as guests arrive; project a slideshow of images from the film onto a wall, or drape a piece of white fabric artfully in the space and project the images onto that with an LCD projector.


Lobby Décor:

The opening of a film is a special occasion! Express it in your lobby décor! Not only will it look great, but even a few key effects will have your audience taking notice. A few ideas for consideration are:

  • Gobos that simulate the effect of light rippling across water
  • Set up an aquarium or two containing specimens of fish from the Great Lakes.


Build the buzz!  Positive word-of-mouth is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to drive audiences to your theatre. Host sneak previews for representatives of:

  • local media
  • local environmental and/or conservation groups 
  • travel agencies
  • local historical societies
  • secondary school student councils
  • post-secondary student councils
  • faculty of related programs at colleges/universities (geology, geography, natural history, biology, chemistry, urban planning, engineering, tourism)


Media Competition:

Members of the media attend hundreds of media events annually. One way to make your events stand out is to play on those rivalries that already exist between media outlets and arrange a little healthy (and fun!) competition.  Chances are, they’ll be motivated to let their audiences know how it went, and promotion of the film will tag along with those messages.

A few ideas include:

  • If your theatre/attraction is located near a body or water, consider a paddling relay race – canoes or dinghies – it’s up to you! 
  • Ever wonder what it’s like to portage a canoe?  Have members of the media team up for a portage relay.
  • Trivial Pursuit: The Great Lakes edition. Set up a special challenge for the media by separating them into teams & asking interesting Great Lakes trivia questions. Be sure to have lots of little prizes on hand for motivation. They’ll all be vying for bragging rights!
  • A non-competitive, but still newsworthy idea for a media event is to invite a guest speaker to make a public presentation about the film, and invite the media to attend. Continue reading for more ideas regarding guest speakers.


ends of the earth