Bringing down the bars

ZSL London Zoo: Get Closer

When some people think of zoos, they imagine tiny cages, iron bars and depressed captive animals. The reality, especially at ZSL London Zoo, is entirely different.

Lush natural landscaping and huge panes of clear glass allow you to feel ‘in with the animals’. While environmental initiatives and work on the ground in the animals’ natural habitats help bring people closer to the real issues surrounding endangered species. But without visitors funding this necessary work, ZSL London Zoo cannot make a difference. The Zoo needed a big idea to help dispel the myths and attract the crowds.

ZSL London Zoo: Get Closer

Our solution was to invite visitors to ‘Get Closer’. We showcased the intimate, magic moments that bring people closer to some of nature’s most majestic creatures and, in turn, bring them closer to global issues like bushmeat, habitat destruction and critically endangered species. In doing this we turned zookeepers into explainers (after all, they know their animals best) and inspired new forms of revenue generation for the Zoo, including the chance to stay late and even spend the night at the Zoo.

One of the first major projects we were involved in was the launch of the Zoo’s £5million Gorilla Kingdom exhibit. Our Get Closer theme brought the majestic Western Lowland Gorilla to the heart of London, turning the urban jungle into the real thing.

The flexibility of the Get Closer theme also allowed us to mix nature and humour, for example with the launch of the Zoo’s new penguin enclosure, Penguin Beach. Designed to look like a South American beach, we let the penguins express themselves with beach towels, water wings and sunglasses. Radio ads tuned listeners into Penguin Beach Radio for a true taste of fun in the sun.

As the world’s oldest scientific zoo, ZSL London Zoo is more than just a walk around some fascinating animal species, it’s a trip through time. The Zoo’s listed architectural wonders are a reason to come in themselves, Charles Darwin’s work was influenced by the time he spent here, while fictional characters like Winnie the Pooh can also be traced back to real residents of the Zoo. There are so many stories to the Zoo that we created a book of stories to hold them all. A chance to get closer to the history of the Zoo it showed the travel trade the real value of a visit. In fact, the Zoo now runs regular history tours so that everyone can discover their own story of the world’s most famous Zoo.

Most recently, in 2013, we created the name, identity and marketing for the Zoo’s most ambitious and prestigious exhibit, Tiger Territory. Home to a breeding pair of endangered Sumatran Tigers, the enclosure was designed to mimic the tigers’ Indonesian forest habitat.

For the main campaign we then invited London’s families to come within a whisker of nature’s most breathtaking predator through the story of one young boy’s up close encounter with a Tiger. His journey into Tiger Territory was told through London Zoo’s first TV commercial for over 20 years, backed up by underground posters and digital display media.

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