What happened around the world in early 2020 needs no repeating. But this is the story of what happened to Queensland’s largest event, our beloved Royal Queensland Show, aka ‘The Ekka.’ As was the case with most live events, in 2020 the Ekka almost became Queensland’s biggest ‘non-event.’ Cancelling the Ekka because of pandemic was not without precedent. Of course the 1919 show was canned by the Spanish Flu, with the Showgrounds used as an open air hospital. 101 years later, the Qld Govt again earmarked the expansive conference rooms of Brisbane Showgrounds as makeshift hospitals to handle the expected overflow of patients suffering from Covid-19. By early mid-April it became clear that the RNA had little option but to cancel the 2020 event.
To us, it felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take the Ekka online, and do our best to engage the community of Ekka loyalists, generate value for sponsors, and most importantly, help out their community of farmers who could now add ‘pandemic’ to the list of droughts, floods and bushfires that have rattled them in recent years. With literally zero budget, but faith that it would be embraced by sponsors, Creature took a big leap of faith and created the actual platform as proof of concept, using our no-code know-how to get up and running fast.
Building it for real also meant it felt ‘real’ – like it was happening with or without you, so you ought to get on board. And sponsors soon did. With the support of RNA and its councillors, pledges began to roll in, and the project got the green light.
Ekka 2020 kicked off with a five minute fireworks display broadcast during Channel 7 News. In the first 48 hours, the site had over 25,000 unique visitors, with an 8% subscription rate. After 10 days of Ekka online, there were over 235,000 video views, over 180,000 website visits and $2.3 million worth of media coverage. The Ekka spirit was alive and well. Now, what was meant to be a one-off, now lives on with the ‘Meet a Farmer’ series streaming via 7plus.
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