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Tag : InspiringAction

The Rhinoceros and the Unicorn

THE RHINOCEROS AND THE UNICORN - an excerpt from The Change Agent's Cookbook

Did you ever wonder where unicorns come from?

No one has ever seen one, because they only exist as an idea or a myth. So, where did the myth come from?

Imagine a time before photography, videography, TV, film, Instagram, all of it… a time when information was passed mouth to ear and walked on foot.

In 400 B.C.E., the historian Ctesias wrote about the one-horned creature for the first time in Greek literature. He was probably referring to the Indian rhinoceros, but readers imagined unicorns.

People hear about a rhinoceros and they imagine a unicorn.

That’s the short of it.

Author and essayist, Adam Gopnik, uses the story of the rhinoceros and the unicorn to explain the difference between modern liberalism (a rhinoceros) and other political philosophies (libertarianism, communism, anarcho-syndicalism, etc.) which he likens to unicorns.

Unicorns are ideal. They have a sort of mythic perfection. We love to think about unicorns. We like to believe in unicorns.

On the other hand, a rhinoceros is an awkward thing. It’s basically a pig with a horn on its head. It’s funny to look at and is politely ignored by proponents of Intelligent Design.

The rhinoceros is a compromise. The rhinoceros is also a perfectly successful animal.

We like our ideals ideal. We like our goals and objectives that way too. We want to build our businesses to some ideal template, some golden form of a business.

Often one hears talk of the leader of successful challenger in a category spoken of in unicorn-like terms.

“Why aren’t we more like Netflix? Google? Apple? Wieden? Droga? RGA? BFG? CPB? DDB? etc.…?”

Tech disrupters with billion dollar-plus valuations are even known as “unicorns.”

They are not. They are rhinoceroses.

Everything successful is an evolved compromise. So, instead of trying to force people into inhuman ideals, why don’t we try to build our organizations from splendid compromises. Why don’t we use the parts well, respecting each one as a successful animal?

Yes, the result may be funny to look at, a bit awkward and ungainly, but it will also be real and more likely successful. And it will be human too.

Why don’t we try to build rhinoceroses rather than unicorns?

Behavior Change Marketing is a rhinoceros, not a unicorn. It isn’t an impossible idea, nor does it claim to be a pure and new thing in the world. It isn’t merely academic and philosophical.

Behavior Change Marketing integrates perspectives and learning from a range of disciplines.

It recognizes that Behavioral Economics is nice old Behavioral Science with some great PR.

We accept the gifts of Behavioral Economics, but we equally welcome that longer heritage of concepts and learnings from Behavioral Science more broadly.

Our long experience in the trenches of direct and digital marketing have taught us that the single best funded program of behavioral economics experiments and their results are mostly lost to us. Lost because their very existence constituted the protected trade secrets of the companies that ran them.

These hundreds of thousands of A/B split tests, multi-cell tests and other experiments form priceless expertise carried around in the heads of venerable brand response wizards, are sometimes set down in writing but always through the distorting lens of hagiographic self-promotion, agency promotion or awards entries.

The knowledge is legend, and much of it is lost to science. That said, we will take all of it we can get, and we will work to see our clients and the broader world get as much benefit from this Fort Knox of intellectual property as we can.

Equally we recognize that the first design thinkers were not denizens of Silicon Valley in the early 2000s, that design thinking was not an invention but at best a rediscovery. If you want to read an excellent compendium of astonishing design thinking, read the Federalist Papers, Hamilton, Jay and Madison’s case study and pitch presentation of their brilliant and flawed rhinocerian creation, the U.S. Constitution.

No, design thinking has been with us a long, long, time. In fact, it took science to get us off the trail of design thinking. Science limited its scope. For example, economics focused on rational homo economicus rather than irrational human beings, and behaviorism focused on observable behavior and demeaned cognition. In dealing with shadows of human beings rather than the whole, scientific thinking led to flat, rational, poor design and communication.

Design thinking was a rediscovery, an attempt to make whole again, to bring in empathy, humanity, uncertainty and chaotic reality. Behavior Change Marketing integrates design thinking as well.

The field of Positive Psychology has seen enormous growth in influence over the past two decades. Today, nations consider Gross National Happiness along with Gross National Product and Subjective Wellbeing is measured by the U.N. to balance their scorecard in evaluating the progress of nations.

And Evolutionary Psychology has helped us to understand the important of signaling, including self-signaling, which challenges the logical, simple, rational and largely incorrect view of human motivation.

The Modern Era loves Unicorns. We love the mythic simplicity. We want to believe that class struggle along drives history and that the future is knowable. A mechanical view of the Universe and envy of natural sciences supported a culture of simple certainty. But, today we understand that even our physics doesn’t operate that way. That, at the best, there is probability. That even if you know everything about the present, you cannot predict the future with any certainty. Randomness is a feature of every system.

So, we are building a Rhinoceros, and we couldn’t be more proud. If you’re building a Rhinoceros too, maybe we could help.

The Bronx Zoo & Inspiring Action with DiGo

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.

The Challenge

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.

The Solution

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.

That’s #InspiringAction