ROM makes a splash with an AR activation

The museum is using Snapchat features to promote a new exhibit about whales and drive attendance as it reopens.


The ROM has launched an immersive social media campaign to promote its newest exhibit, “Great Whales: Up Close and Personal,” as it reopens to the public this week.

The campaign, which is the first by the museum to integrate AR technology within OOH, launches today. It offers Snapchat users the opportunity to view whales at their true size and scale through a feature in the app.

While it is a different approach to OOH than the ROM has used in the past, it was important to the museum and agency of record OMD to find a way to drive attendance after a prolonged period of closure due to the pandemic.

“As we were planning this campaign, the OOH environment had been greatly impacted by COVID and we felt we needed a different approach to have the stopping power OOH can often provide,” explains Christine Wilson, chief talent and enablement officer at OMD. “People have been away from the ROM for quite some time. COVID has really impacted the ability to have people interact with an exhibit, but this whale exhibit is phenomenal, and we wanted to bring some of that outside of the ROM.”

Whales Snap AR TSA[1]The goal was to avoid being “gimmicky or hokey,” and to remain “true to the way the ROM represents itself as a brand,” she says. “We saw scale and opportunity through the technology and the platform to be able to really bring the ROM’s story to life.”

“People love the ROM, but the audience we’re seeking has just been latent because the museum hasn’t been open,” adds Wilson. “We’re hoping to generate excitement and get a groundswell of people to go back.”

By activating a Snapcode at one of four locations in Toronto, users can view a pod of whales through AR along the city’s skyline and waterfront. The codes are displayed on boards at the ROM and along Queen’s Quay at the intersections of Jarvis, Spadina and Rees.

In addition, Snapchatters can use the platform’s Face Lens to virtually swim with whales, or can make a blue whale appear anywhere using the platform’s 3D World Lens.

The lenses – as well as the exhibit itself – are being promoted through Snapchat Stories and the app’s Discover tab. It is all part of a larger campaign to support the exhibit that includes traditional OOH, broadcast, radio and a life-sized chalk drawing of a whale along the ROM’s Bloor Street facade.

Media for the campaign is handled by OMD, while creative was developed by BT/A in collaboration with Broken Heart Love Affair.