We are all in for a treat this month. I would like to introduce guest blogger Amy Hughes, INNZ member and Group Manager of Visitor Engagement at Wellington Zoo.
I think it is only appropriate this blog is called ‘Legend’, because that is what Amy is around the Zoo (Haha! Ok, I am just greasing up to the boss now, I’ll stop). She has been working to engage visitors at Wellington Zoo for the last 3 1/2 years and here are just some of her thoughts. Enjoy.
I’ve been internalising a complicated situation in my head. My seven year old nephew told me last weekend that I ‘couldn’t eat his ghost chips,’ and this got me wondering how an ad intended to encourage people to stop driving drunk, aimed at teenage males, had entered our national consciousness. Sure it’s funny and has eminently quotable lines but what is it that sets it apart from other ads?
We have been bombarded for years with images of graphic car crashes, the after effects of driving drunk and people dying, yet none of these ads have resonated in the same way Legend has and they certainly don’t have 2 million youtube hits. The NZTA have found an engaging way to deliver a message that we have all heard thousands of times before and managed to make people pay attention and start talking about it. Legend has generated media stories and discussions – and not just about the ad, but about the issue and whether an ad can make people change their behaviour. And, when you think that it is only 60 seconds long, it is even more impressive.
At the Zoo we deal with big issues. Deforestation, animals’ habitat loss, declining animal populations –enough to make anyone depressed. The other day we were having a meeting and we started chatting about large companies, who owns who, how pretty much everything you buy is ultimately funding tobacco or nuclear companies, or contains palm oil and one of my colleagues put her head in hands and said ‘Stop, its too depressing, I can’t handle it.’ If someone who works here finds one conversation overwhelming, it doesn’t bode well for communicating with our visitors!
There is well documented research that shows if someone is happy, or in a positive frame of mind, they feel empowered and more open to receiving messages. If you were a visitor going to your place for the first time, how many no, don’t, never messages would you encounter? I don’t know about you, but having never completely quashed my teenage rebellious streak, as soon as someone tells me not to touch or climb something, its all I want to do.
I love the idea of the humour and positive messaging in Legend, and how we can apply that at the Zoo. And, if we can create conversations and discussions around actions, issues and behaviour change – even better.