For over a century, The Bronx Zoo has been a cultural landmark in New York City. With over two million visitors a year, the world-renowned zoo has more than earned its reputation as one of the city’s must-see attractions.
But in the summer of 2017, the zoo wasn’t living up to its standard. Attendance was down, and with their annual Halloween event, “Boo at The Zoo,” right around the corner, that needed to change… and quickly.
That’s when they came to us to inspire action.
People love going to the Zoo, but only go once every few years. They assume that once you’ve been once, you’ve seen all that there is to see.
Of course, our client knew that assumption to be far from the truth… there’s always something new to experience at The Bronx Zoo – we just needed to make New Yorkers aware of that.
Create memorable “must-come” events in every season to increase brand awareness and drive attendance while making The Bronx Zoo relevant to a whole new audience.
Our client needed to do the urgent fast and the important great, so we got to work right away with “Boo at the Zoo”. We collaborated with our brilliant clients and built a campaign that would Inspire Action by turning an annual tradition into something brand new.
Enter Flamingo Girl…
To bring a new level of anticipation to one of NYC’s premiere Halloween events , we conjured up Flamingo Girl – a precocious, strong-willed seven-year-old dressed in a festive flamingo costume created by one of our talented Art Directors, Katie Renfroe. With the support of the client, we ventured down to Manhattan’s historic Washington Square Park, where we hidden cameras were set up to capture the ensuing magic.
Flocking around in an adorable pink costume with matching sunglasses, Flamingo Girl asked passerby the same question: “What are you gonna be for Boo At The Zoo?”. She charmed the streets of NYC, asking cabbies, statues, tourists, policemen, hot dog vendors, even real dogs.
After capturing the footage, we made a series of little films that acted as both a love letter to New York and an invitation to “the biggest, bestest Halloween event in New York City.”
Flamingo Girl instantly became a viral sensation, appearing all over the internet and social in cute TV spots and in print ads offline. The spots were even named an official honoree of last year’s Webby Awards. Flamingo Girl was both famous and famously effective.
To really bring this campaign to life and make a real impression on New Yorkers, we built The Bronx Zoo Bootique, the first-ever experimental pop-up space from The Bronx Zoo.
The Bronx Zoo Bootique took all the magic of Boo At The Zoo and brought it to the Lower East Side. The pop-up had a face painter, henna tattoos, and costumes that were donated by artists from around the world.
And of course, Flamingo Girl, already a superstar, made time to fly on over and say hello to all her newfound fans.
The campaign was a success, increasing attendance by 13% compared to the previous year, and our client saw a 20% increase in total revenue — the highest performing Boo at the Zoo in six years!
Boogie Down At the Zoo
Building on that momentum, our client and the DiGo team shifted our focus to the spring for the Bronx Zoo’s next innovative event, the first ever “Boogie Down at The Zoo”.
With live performances from hip hop legends like Melle Mel, The Sugar Hill Gang, Grandmaster Caz and graffiti sessions from world-renowned and Bronx-raised artists like John “Crash” Matos, this one-of-a-kind event brought together the best of Bronx culture with the amazing animals featured at the zoo.
The event promotion featured retro-themed video content of the Bronx icons shooting the breeze around the borough in a 1980s-era “Boogie Down Cab”, an old taxi transformed by Crash’s trademark comic-styled graffiti.
The three-month event appealed to a new audience of NYC’s attraction-lovers, social-fun seekers, and culture cravers.
Passport to the World
With the summer nearing, it was time to draw crowds back to the zoo for their next seasonal event, “Passport to The World” – a showcase of the many regions the Wildlife Conservation Society works in.
Our design team built a brand identity and campaign that highlighted vast wildlife from around the world and celebrated global cultures. With beautifully illustrated travel posters strategically placed throughout New York City subway kiosks, this worldly summer experience was put on display for thousands of daily commuters, building anticipation and driving traffic to event-branded landing pages and videos.
Three straight seasons. Three unique must-see events.
And most importantly, three fantastic reasons for visitors to return – and they did.
During our partnership with The Bronx Zoo, we helped make one of New York City’s most iconic institutions a place where attendees of all ages could come and immerse themselves in cultural adventures that went way beyond the world-class animal exhibits. Each of these events offered unforgettable experiences, appealed to a younger influencer audience, and turned casual zoo-goers into lifelong brand devotees with memories to last a lifetime.
This past week, my partner Lee Goldstein and I have been on a listening tour, immersing ourselves in the wisdom of some of the most accomplished marketers in the world.
Meeting with marketers is like ascending a mountain through clouds. In the middle, things can be foggy and confusing, but the view from the top is crystal clear.
The clear message of top marketers?
“There are three KPIs that matter:
The first is Cost-to-Acquire a Customer.
The second is Revenue-per-Customer.
And the third is Lifetime Value of the Customer.”
So said Jim Safka, former CMO of E*TRADE and CEO of Match.com.
Jim told us how he restructured his organization at Match from traditional “marketing and product” silos to a “one-leader-one-metric” system, with each of his key managers owning one of the three KPIs.
Ty Shay, CMO of LifeLock and former CMO of Squaretrade has had a very good month. A week ago, on November 28th, it was announced that SquareTrade will be acquired by Allstate for $1.4 billion dollars. Just a week earlier, Symantec announced it would acquire LifeLock in a deal worth $2.3 billion dollars.
We’d understand if Ty were focused on his stock and options at this time, but instead he too listed the three key measures – the very same KPIs that Safka cited.
“Cost-to-Acquire, Revenue-per-Customer and Lifetime Value – that’s the business,” said Shay.
Cost-to-Acquire is a pretty straightforward measure. How much do you have to spend on marketing to acquire a new customer? When we say that “we use inspiring action to drive brand value up and cost-per-acquisition down” – that’s what we’re talking about.
Revenue-per-Customer and Lifetime Value of a Customer are both measures of customer value, of course. The later (LTV) can be thought of as simply the gross profit-per-customer over the average customer tenure. Here’s an infographic on how to calculate LTV.
In an ideal world, LTV would be the only measure driving the “allowable” – the maximum cost to acquire a customer profitably.
But, it’s not an ideal world, from a finance perspective. Most companies are working to shorter time horizons when calculating permissible marketing spends for acquisition, because most companies count on cash-flow to some extent to finance the ongoing operations of the company.
That’s where Revenue-Per-Customer comes in. Many companies pick monthly, quarterly or annual time periods. Within those periods, the total revenue divided by the total number of customers yields the Revenue-Per-Customer.
This is brand direct marketing.
But where does “brand” fit in? Brand lowers the cost to acquire a customer, while increasing lifetime value. Brand drives greater passion around every interaction, moving customers and influencers through sales funnel and lifecycle. Brand reduces friction in the funnel, speeding growth.
The Inspiring Action marketer, using modern brand direct marketing techniques, never sacrifices brand for revenue, or sales for brand. Instead, the standard is a synergy wherein the brand idea improves response and sales today, while building the brand for tomorrow.
Focusing on the three key KPIs helps an inspiring action marketers write their own tickets. Take it from Jim Safka and Ty Shay.
This research says there’s a trade-off between short-term and long-term results. It’s terrific research. It’s also wrong.
By Mark DiMassimo
Here’s the difference between research and brand response marketing:
Research is descriptive. It works from observation of what has occurred.
Brand response marketing is creative, inventive and synergistic. Brand response marketing creates new realities.
This excellent survey looks at many hundreds of marketing campaigns run over several decades and observes that those that performed best in the short run tended to perform worst in the long run. And vice versa. While those in the middle tended to perform best on both sales and brand measures in the long run.
If you’re quite sure you’re going to still have your job in the long run, no matter what you do, then I suppose you can settle for that. You can play the averages.
But, what if you’re like most mortals? What if you actually have to have excellent short-term results in order to earn the privilege of earning excellent long-term results? What if you need to sell and build a brand?
Then, you need more than a paradox, which essentially tells you what you already know — your job is difficult and you’re going to need to achieve a result that is both uncommon and far from the center of the Bell Curve.
Here’s good news for you: Most of the cases considered in the survey were created by normal marketers. Many of them inadvertently sold out their brands to achieve an acceptable acquisition cost. Some of them knew it and didn’t even care.
Others built brands without a care in the world about the efficiency of their acquisition marketing. Some of these cared more about their reputation for doing famous campaigns than they did about generating results. But many more were probably guilty of nothing more than misplaced faith in the myth that building a brand can solve all problems. It can’t.
And the results of all of those marketers’ campaigns are the data behind this study. In fact, the marketers you will compete with today will be much like these.
But you don’t have to be!
Brand response is not about reducing short term response in order to build long-term brand!
Is that the way Dollar Shave Club got to a billion-dollar valuation in just a few years? Is that they way companies like American Express, at their best, build a new product? Of course not.
Because it’s possible to discover an idea that will organize and change everything An idea based on an insight. And when you know how to apply that idea to brand response creative, you’re likely to measure an extremely favorable change in your acquisition data.
The right idea is inherently brand building, even as it sells harder — and here’s the thing: If it sells harder, it runs more and more people see it. If it builds the brand, and more people see it, then it builds the brand more effectively.
The fact that this synergy is rare — about as rare as successful product introductions — doesn’t mean it is unachievable. In fact, such brand response success can be reliably and predictably achieved. All that it requires is that you have the right people on the team and that they are doing the right things.
You can have better results in the short run that naturally lead to better results in the long run.
Don’t accept any less!
For more on how to drive up brand value while you drive down cost-per-acquisition, read about The Ten Signs of An Inspiring Action Company. Inspiring action companies like Dollar Shave Club, Air BNB and Warby Parker consistently outperform their categories in building brand value and revenue.
Interested to know what Inspiring Action Marketers are obsessed with today? Find out here.