Northern California — The Monterey Bay Aquarium, among the top aquariums in the U.S., participates in a series of outdoor events and festivals every summer in order to boost brand awareness and attendance. Digital Media ETC was commissioned by Billups Worldwide, and challenged by the aquarium’s ad agency, Chemistry Club, to create something memorable, portable, and digital for their summer-long campaign.
One of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s most popular exhibits is the award-winning “Open Sea” which houses a diverse community of open-ocean animals, including tunas, pelagic stingrays, mackerel, sardines and scalloped hammerhead sharks. One of the most iconic images inside the exhibit is the “bait ball” where 16,000 sardines swarm in unison to create the appearance of one large creature. This image would serve as the inspiration for the 2015 Bait Ball campaign inclusive of an immersive, interactive experience, as well as a brand ambassador program.
Chemistry Club, Billups Division Black and Digital Media ETC worked closely with Monterey Bay Aquarium on storyboarding and styling the Bait Ball interaction and functionality. They then developed a rich touchscreen experience which invited users to interact with thousands of digital sardines as they darted and dashed all over a giant mobile screen. Users could also control the bait ball on a 75-inch touchscreen, customize its shape, and share their bait ball formation over social media as a short video. To help ensure the exhibit’s portability, the touchscreen and dome were powered by solar energy — removing the need to connect to local electricity sources.
To complement the interactive experience, other elements were added to the movable exhibit, including a large branded dome to house the giant interactive screen. Brand ambassadors helped to manage crowds, lines and give away Monterey Bay Aquarium promotional merchandise.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Bait Ball Experience was successfully deployed at 10 events and festivals in 30 days.
“This event was a huge success for everyone involved — the aquarium, the agency, Billups and DME. The reactions and responses from event attendees were incredible. I couldn’t be more proud of our team,” said Paul Whitney, President of Digital Media ETC.
Rick Robinson, EVP and Chief Strategy Officer of Billups Division Black, added, “Digital Media ETC is a solid resource for Division Black. We trust them to execute against all circumstances, keep the client’s brand as the driver, and bring relevant thinking. The sustained tempo and thorough effort on behalf of Monterey Bay Aquarium this summer proves they know their business and deliver the goods.”