Chester Zoo Needs You!

Chester Zoo

This week a new drama series aired on the BBC called “Our Zoo“. The series is based on the founding and early years of Chester Zoo and focuses on the lives of the eccentric Mottershead family who established the Zoo in the 1930s. The following extract from the BBC’s press release of the programme gives you a good idea of series’ tone and storyline:

Haunted by memories of combat in the Great War, he now finds himself living with his wife and two daughters in his parents’ cramped home above the family grocery store. While delivering goods by the docks one day, he spots an unwanted squirrel monkey and a camel about to be put down in the quarantine bay. George can’t bear to let them suffer so takes them both home to his parents’ backyard instead – much to the family’s bewilderment.

Chester Zoo rightfully wanted to benefit from a prime-time BBC TV drama that tells a story about its history, but what was the best way of doing this? How could it turn viewers into visitors and non-believers into social endorsers?

Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo decided to create its own interactive crowdsourcing platform called “Me, You and the Zoo” and to promote the platform using the hashtag “#ZooMemories”. The campaign, created alongside Manchester-based digital agency CodeComputerlove, encourages users to share their memories and experiences of Chester Zoo since it opened its doors back in the 1930s.

The platform consists of an interactive and animated timeline that welcomes submissions from everybody and anybody that’s been affected in some way by Chester Zoo over the past 80 years. Both text and images can be uploaded to the sleek and user-friendly hub and although it’s still quite bare at the time of writing, the site will look great once it’s been bulked out with memories. Chester Zoo is crowdsourcing memories to form the basis of the content for this campaign.

The site also incorporates information about the Zoo such as opening times, directions, contact details, and an all important link to buy tickets. Users will feel all warm and fuzzy when they see the ‘buy tickets’ link replaced with a ‘create new memories’ link – a rather nice touch that fits in well with the tone of voice of the overall campaign.

Chester Zoo

The campaign is reminiscent of Visit Croatia’s croudsourcing effort that was launched earlier this year. Both Visit Croatia and Chester Zoo’s campaigns focus on the idea of memories and reminiscing on the past in order to preserve it for future generations. Whether it’s remembering old times or creating new memories, us humans are always eager to create some kind of artefact of our existence and share this with others.

With social networks and purpose built platforms like we’ve seen from Chester Zoo, a hub for disseminating these stories makes us feel more inclined to do so. Sometimes a small dose of nostalgia can go a long way to injecting some history, personality and meaning into a brand. Crowdsourcing can go wrong, but when it’s structured and organised in a way like this, the advertiser will reap the rewards.

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