Dallas Zoo

Strategy Development, Integrated Marketing, Video Production,
Content Creation, Consumer Insight Research, Social Media

In 2012, the Alchemy at AMS team was tasked with not only changing public perception of the Dallas Zoo, but also increasing attendance during a year in which absolutely no new exhibits were opening. After conducting in-depth qualitative research to gain an understanding of current public perception, we developed our mission to raise overall awareness and get firmly on people’s “to be considered” list. Leveraging the zoo’s 125th anniversary, we created synergy between the problem and the zoo’s anniversary by literally giving the public 125 reasons to “Do the Zoo” in celebration of its “birthday.”

Our creative thinkers designed a marketing and promotion campaign to bring this special birthday to the public eye with a custom logo design and myriad media tactics—including a microsite that was the centerpiece of the campaign as all traffic (engaged through traditional, grassroots and online awareness-building) was driven there. On the advertised birthday weekend, attendance was up 40% compared to the same weekend the previous year (even though the prior year had featured the highly anticipated opening of the koala exhibit, which is obviously pretty stiff competition).

In 2015, the Giants of the Jurassic exhibit brought more than 25 roaring animatronic dinosaurs to the zoo, and our strategy was to highlight how BIG the exhibit really was—at a place that’s already known for its big size and its big animals. The campaign caught eyes and stopped traffic with print, digital outdoor, transit radio and digital banners. And the result? The zoo surpassed the milestone of a million visitors in a single year for the first time in its 127-year history.

Next, the playful “Zoo.Oh! Upgraded” campaign positioned the zoo as a welcome alternative to screen time for families wanting to unglue from their devices. By combining digital terms like “binge watching,” “face time,” “friend request” and “browser” with killer photography of Dallas Zoo experiences, we redefined the tech speak by showing the offline equivalent. The approach helped the real-life animal house break attendance records in 2016—which is a rarity in a non-major-exhibit year.