2020’s Creative Campaigns #9 – Chester Zoo Goes Virtual

I’ve said it from the start and I’ll say it again, the businesses most likely to survive this, are the ones that can adapt quickly and who’re creative enough to accommodate the current climate.

Many, many businesses and organisations have been forced to close their doors in the interests of public safety amid the Coronavirus outbreak. This is putting multiple companies in very compromised positions. Without generating any cash flow, it’s going to be a really tough ride for businesses that depend on footfall to remain afloat.

Chester Zoo is one such business that has been effected.

There’s not much selling that can be done right now, whilst some businesses are completely inoperational right now, many others are struggling to sell as people are less willing to part with their money in these uncertain times. I recently wrote that CSR and brand building is all you can really do as a business right now while we wait out the storm.

On Friday, Chester Zoo proved my point.

Chester Zoo Goes Virtual On Facebook

An organisation that relies almost entirely on getting feet through doors, Chester Zoo is one such establishment that had to close its doors as the Coronavirus pandemic unfolds.

But they didn’t let it discourage them.

Already in the hearts of most of the nation thanks to the Secret Life At The Zoo, Chester Zoo is a much-loved organisation, so much so that when they announce they’re doing something exciting. We, the public, lap it up.

Last week they announced that whilst we couldn’t visit the zoo, they’d be bringing the zoo to us. It “broke the internet” according to the Cheshire Live. Free and accessible to almost everyone, Chester Zoo orchestrated a whole day’s worth of a timetable which involved recorded feeds of many of their animals including the red pandas, penguins and elephants.

What perfect a time, when the whole country is subdued to a lockdown and the kids are off school – and probably rather bored.

Word spread amongst friends and family faster than it did in the media, and before I’d even had a chance to tell anybody that I knew that Chester Zoo was doing this (after seeing it on LinkedIn first), everybody else had already told me. Family Whatsapp Groups and on Twitter and Facebook, it seemed everybody was talking about the day that Chester Zoo was to go digital.

Why I Want To See More Of These Campaigns

“Out of darkness cometh light.”

While these are awful times right now, there’s so much to be learned from brands, and plenty of opportunities that they can grasp.

From what I can see, Chester Zoo racked up millions of views on Facebook over the duration of their digital zoo campaign. Not to mention they achieved coverage on pretty much every news site, from national to regional – the last place I saw them mentioned was on the BBC.

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Coupled with prolific social media coverage on Twitter as well as, obviously, Facebook – the campaign was an unparalleled success.

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But there’s more to this that makes me love it so much, benefits that far exceed coverage eyeballs or social shares.

For one, it’s so important that you don’t let people forget your brand right now. Granted, nobody’s going to forget about Chester Zoo anytime soon, but it’s still great for them to keep their consumers interested all the while we can’t visit. Why? Because while we’re at home in isolation, most of us are dreaming of what we’ll do when this comes to pass. When the lockdown is lifted and normality resumes, of course we’ll remember what we thought about during these times, and with Chester Zoo capturing the attention of so many last week, I don’t doubt that there’ll be masses of people who’ve already planned a trip in line with its reopening.

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One guess as to when search interest peaked for “Chester Zoo” in the past 7 days…

Secondly, if you have the capacity to do it, you should really be thinking of how you can give back to the community right now. This doesn’t always look as clear and as straight cut as donating money or resources, there are more creative ways that you can make sure your brand is supporting the nation in this time of crisis. For Chester Zoo, they kept a nation of kids (ahem, and adults) entertained for the most part of Friday. They gave people something to look forward to in a period of uncertainty. For me, that’s a pretty strong brand contribution and I’d love to see more organisations emerging out to do similar things during these uneasy times.

As well as this, I’ve said time and time again that brands need to adapt and acclimatise in order to survive. For most businesses, this will be tricky, but if you can think of a way to switch up your brand’s strategy so that it can still service its stakeholders in isolation, then now’s the time to do it. For Chester Zoo, a year ago I bet nobody would have thought about the possibility of live streaming the zoo to millions, of bringing it to people’s homes whilst they’re unable to go out. But it’s 2020 and here we are. When faced with unprecedented situations, the creatives amongst us power through. We make the most of a bad situation and we carry on, however we can. That’s something that the guys over at Chester Zoo have certainly exampled here.

And finally, I love this and want to see more of this, because it brings some positivity in a word otherwise saturated with bleakness. The nation is crying out for normality right now and a little bit of escapism. As PRs, we’ve seen this directly with the number of journalists who are putting out a plethora of requests for positive news stories. Now, I don’t know about you, but a day full of live zoo action certainly seems like one of the most positive things to come out of this whole affair.

What do you think of Chester Zoo’s live streaming? As always, let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (please)!

3 thoughts on “2020’s Creative Campaigns #9 – Chester Zoo Goes Virtual”

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