With its 100th anniversary of Cub Scouting looming on 16 December 2016, the Scout Association embarked upon an ambitious plan to celebrate the occasion with a year-long campaign entitled The Wildest Birthday Ever, featuring set piece media moments and a calendar of events. Its objective was to recruit more adults as leaders by raising awareness with mothers with no experience of scouting, parents of children already involved and younger adults who had been Scouts.
The centenary celebrations kicked off with a sleepover for Cub Scouts at ZSL London Zoo. Representing every region and country within the UK, 44 Scouts and 22 leaders spent the weekend learning about the workings of the zoo before bedding down for the night in the bug house. Those involved were encouraged to share their plans on social media to generate excitement. Two weeks later, 8,000 Cubs attended the Wildest Beach Party Ever at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, the first time in its history that the amusement park had been closed to the public.The day’s activities included the rides and attractions, cake cutting, a giant group photo and a world record attempt.
Another set media moment, dubbed Steve In The Sky, occurred in late April when Cubs100 ambassador, television presenter Steve Backshall, visited ten Cub Scout events stretching from Croydon to Manchester in one day by helicopter. The event was broadcast live on social media. One month later Chief Scout Bear Grylls also took to the sky, with his Bear in the Air tour of events, which started at CubJam, the biggest ever week-long summer camp for Cub Scouts. CubJam generated content used by nine ITV regional news programmes.
Between May and September, local packs organised adventure camps culminating in a host of ‘takeover days’ in late September, involving 6,500 Cub Scouts enjoying a day of fun at Chessington World of Adventure, Alton Towers, Whipsnade and London zoo and Warwick Castle, generating coverage in local newspapers. The final week of the campaign began with an event at Speaker’s House in Westminster, where MPs (including former Cubs) met with Cub Scouts to learn what the movement means today.
This was followed by a visit to a Cub Pack in Norfolk by the Duchess of Cambridge, who also took the promise, generating worldwide TV, print and social media coverage. Two days later, on the official centenary, Cub Scout Promise renewal events were held across the country including one in the shadow of Dippy the Dinosaur in the Natural History Museum. Messages of support were also shared with the media, including those from the Queen, Sir David Attenborough and Sir Richard Branson.
Royal Mail also, quite literally, marked the end of the celebrations with a special frank depicting #Cubs100 and its campaign message on every letter posted on 16 December. The celebrations generated more than 1,400 pieces of coverage across the year, including broadcast items on Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, The Daily Politics and print features in The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and The Times. Social media activity by the Scout Association for
#Cubs100 achieved more than 820,000 views while a video has been watched in excess of 800,000 times. The activities also generated interest from adults, and the number of volunteers rose by 5,172 over the year – the largest increase in a decade, marking the 12th consecutive year of growth.
The judges described the campaign as ‘creative, fun and engaging’, but, perhaps more importantly, they were all aware of the centenary celebrations, demonstrating that #Cubs100 had real cut-through.