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Planning for Cultural Interest with Minecraft | A PR Planning Case Study

Anyone with kids aged 8-16 will be familiar with Minecraft. For those who aren’t, it’s an open world block building game enjoyed by 10 million active players in the UK.

What gets built in Minecraft is impressive. Below are examples of the Titanic, Van Gogh’s Stary Night and Minas Tirith from Lord from the Rings; all built within the game.

When the game was ready to launch its latest update “The Wild Update” a set of enhancements to the game’s natural world, our brief was incredibly straightforward. They simply wanted as many players as possible to carry out the update.

So, we needed people to download the update. But in all honesty, the committed community of players would largely do that anyway. Much of the work of a PR planner is spent getting clients to think beyond their initial objectives. This project was no different.

We saw a bigger opportunity at the heart of the brief – that being to reinforce Minecraft’s role in culture as a force for driving the imaginations of young people all over the country. We saw The Wild Update as a chance to reach players, their parents and even educators to reinforce the creativity and imagination that the game has to offer.

Our challenge was to make Minecraft culturally interesting. To do it we’d need to work through our planning at the speed of culture. Interrogation of the update lead us to the discovery of Ancient Cities – a new addition to the game.

These were essentially ruins, buried underground in various Minecraft worlds waiting to be discovered. They looked a bit rubbish. But they were only a starting point.

These ruins triggered my planning partner, Simon Alvey, into remembering a story he’d recently read about Skara Brae – a archaeological site on the Orkney Islands that is under constant threat from coastal erosion. The story was prescient and importnatly reinforced the importance of archaeology as a critical benefit to UK culture and education.

And like building, or-rebuilding in Minecraft, the act of historical conservation, whether by tourists, historians, or conservationists, is an act of imagination.

This was essentially the unlock that gave us the opportunity to engage our creatives with a brief that asked them to challenge the imaginations and creativity of the Minecraft community to engage the wider public with the cultural and educational significance of UK conservation.

We looked for a historical ruin that was both an icon of conservation and a creative challenge for Minecraft players, eventually settling on Corfe Castle. As one of the UK’s most visited sites, this ruin allowed us to link rebuilding efforts to historical questions. A partnership with The National Trust reflected our ambition for the campaign.

We set Minecraft players the challenge of using their imaginations to come up with an idea of what Corfe Castle looked like in its medieval heyday. This gave players the opportunity to show off their building skills on a new challenge, something they would want to share.

All told the campaign was a phenomenal success. It re-established visitor numbers at Corfe Caste and helped deliver download targets for The Wild Update. Minecraft players created hundreds of castles through thousands of hours of gameplay.

Director & EMEA Operations Lead at Edelman


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