Sunbrella® Inspires Design Innovation, Builds Brand through Educational Content

  • Categories:

    Paid Media

  • Date:

    July 14, 2016

Sunbrella® Inspires Design Innovation, Builds Brand through Educational Content

Paid Media

At Wray Ward, we’re always thinking about new and innovative ways to elevate our clients’ brands.

We worked with Sunbrella, the world’s leading performance fabric manufacturer, and Architizer to found the Future of Shade competition in 2013. The competition, which recently wrapped up its fourth year, encourages architects to submit innovative ideas for using fabric in shade designs.  Entries showcase the properties and numerous applications of fabric offerings from Sunbrella.

Future of Shade represented a highly effective way to expose architects to the Sunbrella brand through inspirational, crowdsourced content. After the success of the first two competitions, we saw a tremendous opportunity to continue building on that achievement by repurposing rich content generated via the contest and sharing it with a wider audience.

Architects and landscape architects are required to complete Continuing Education Units (CEU) on an annual basis. Capitalizing on this need, we worked with Sunbrella, Architizer and Architectural Record, an established CEU provider, to develop the Future of Shade CEU, “Fabric Components in Sustainable Architecture Design,” with content crowdsourced from the competition. Inspired by architects for architects, the online course consists of striking photography, written content and a test.

After completing the Future of Shade CEU, architects should be able to:

  • Discuss innovations and futuristic objectives for using shade structures constructed with fabric in commercial architecture
  • Explain how shade structures made of fabric can add both appealing design and functionality to building structures
  • Define the benefits of shade structures for personal health and UV protection
  • Discuss how the use of textiles in shade structures can positively impact thermal performance and energy efficiency
  • List LEED credits to which awnings and solar shades can contribute directly

Launched in the fall to attract architects scrambling to earn credits at the end of the year, the Future of Shade CEU was promoted:

  • In print and online editions of Architectural Record
  • Via a Sunbrella online campaign, which won Best in Class for online advertising in the Architectural Record 2016 Advertising Excellence Awards
  • By Sunbrella at trade shows
  • Through collateral pieces
  • Through print advertisements

It’s been successful: more than 3,100 architects have already taken the course, making it a popular option. These professionals have expanded their knowledge of how soft components can be used to create shade, gaining exposure to the Sunbrella brand as well as valuable information and educational credits.

We expanded its reach by working with the continuing education hub, AEC Daily, to add the Future of Shade CEU to its online library of CEU courses. And as the competition evolved to include new categories, such as designing shade for wellness gardens, we have expanded our course offering. On the heels of our first CEU course, we worked with AEC Daily to develop a second course, “Healing Gardens: The Role of Fabric for Shade and Seating.”

Though these CEU courses do not heavily brand Sunbrella, they position them as a thought leader for this category. The CEU courses have been well received by the company’s market managers and sales teams as a fantastic way to connect and cultivate relationships with key audiences. We’re currently creating video versions of the courses to assist Sunbrella with this effort.

We’d wanted to develop a CEU for a client for some time, and Future of Shade presented the perfect opportunity. Negotiated as part of Sunbrella’s advertising campaign with Architectural Record, the Future of Shade CEU is a great example of how to:

  • Harness synergies between paid media and content creation
  • Leverage existing content to fulfill long-term goals

The program may be intricate, but at the end of the day, the concept is simple: repurpose inspiring content created by architects to educate other architects about using fabric for shade structures, positioning the brand (Sunbrella) as a thought leader along the way.

It’s working, and it should only continue to grow.


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