Marine life close up

You can't get much closer to exotic aquatic species than by visiting the Vancouver Aquarium, according to a new campaign by Palmer Jarvis DDB Vancouver. The tongue-in-cheek out-of-home and print campaign launched across B.C. in mid-July, with the message that the aquarium is a fun place to visit this summer.

You can’t get much closer to exotic aquatic species than by visiting the Vancouver Aquarium, according to a new campaign by Palmer Jarvis DDB Vancouver. The tongue-in-cheek out-of-home and print campaign launched across B.C. in mid-July, with the message that the aquarium is a fun place to visit this summer.

‘Although the aquarium is very conscientious about things like conservation and education, they didn’t want to reflect that more stuffy side with this campaign,’ explains Alan Russell, VP creative director at PJDDB.

Using the tagline: ‘Marine life up close. Very close,’ the campaign puts a humorous spin on visitors interacting with some of the aquatic animals on display. ‘Piranhas’ shows a young boy standing before a tank full of piranhas, unaware of the huge bite that has been taken out of his pogo. In ‘Shark’ a woman studies the shark tank, oblivious to the fact that her dog is ominously missing from its leash. Similar incidents play out in the remaining ads, ‘Octopus’ and ‘Eel.’

The ads were designed to target two separate audiences. ‘We want to remind local people about this great attraction that we have right on our doorstep, especially young families who are looking for something to do with the kids this summer,’ says Cosmo Campbell, art director on the campaign. ‘Over the years local people have become aware of some of the attractions like beluga whales and dolphins, so with this campaign we wanted to focus on some of the more unusual creatures.’ To reach this crowd, the ads are appearing in parenting magazines and in transit and billboard locations to capture commuters.

Meanwhile, to target Vancouver’s lucrative tourist market, which may not have prior knowledge of the aquarium, the same ads are also running in tourist publications.

Lynne DeCew, VP of sales and marketing at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, says: ‘We advertise all year round with different messages, but summer is our peak time so it is essential to get out there with something bold and eye-catching to really kick-start the season for us and bring the visitors in.’

To complement the new campaign, last year’s TV spot ‘The Slap’ has also been re-released on networks in Vancouver for the summer. PJDDB’s spot, which was a finalist at Cannes this year, was launched last summer to promote a new exhibit, the Wild Coast. It shows a man and young daughter visiting the aquarium. As they move from tank to tank the man mimics the sounds and actions of the various animals, until he is stopped in his tracks by a sea lion that slaps him in the face with a flipper when he starts to imitate its honking sound.

‘The message and humour of this ad is very similar to that of the print campaign so it made sense to revive it,’ says DeCew. Last year’s tagline has been changed from: ‘See the Wild Coast up close. Very close,’ to match the print tagline. Credits for print campaign
Client: Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre
Agency: Palmer Jarvis DDB
Creative Director: Alan Russell
Copywriter: Alan Russell
Art Director: Cosmo Campbell
Producer: Ninette Aves
Account Director: Christina Tan
Account Executive: Cher Henderson
Photographer: Hans Sipma