Doner Celebrates ‘The Zoo That Could’

By Erik Oster 

Doner launched a new campaign for the Detroit Zoo, promoting it as “The Zoo That Could.”

Using soft, pastel-hued animation, courtesy of Psyop, and voiceover from a child actor, a pair of spots promote different aspects that set the zoo apart: animal welfare and conservation. “Animal Welfare” alludes to the zoo’s efforts as the home of the Center for Zoo Animal Welfare and focuses on how it’s “a champion for creatures in and outside its care.” The Detroit Zoo, the child narrator claims, is notable for “saving lions from junkyards,” “polar bears from the circus” and “countless others who needed its aid.” 

“Conservation” takes a similar approach in championing the zoo’s conservation efforts, which have included saving the federally endangered Great Lakes piping plover and reviving the Partula nodosa Tahitian land snail species. While the ad, aimed at children, doesn’t mention either of these accomplishments specifically, it does allude to the zoo “reviving species living on the brink” and concluding that “extinction, we think, should be extinct.”

While both spots are admirable in highlighting aspects that set Detroit Zoo apart, they suffer from a similar problem. Between the soft colors of the animation, the storybook-like cadence of the words and gentle lull of the background music, they both come across as a bit too sleepy. That’s too bad, as it will make it all to easy for audiences to tune out their message. On the other hand, at least there aren’t any rap battles.

Client: Detroit Zoo

Rob Strasberg, Co-CEO, Chief Creative Officer
Karen Cathel – EVP, Executive Creative Director
Michael Stelmaszek – EVP, Executive Creative Director
Jason Jakubiak – SVP, Group Digital Creative Director
Phil Foster – Associate Creative Director
Kyle Duda – Senior Copywriter
Megan McDonald – Copywriter
Nick Pavlak – Manager, User Experience
Laurie Irwin – Executive Production Consultant
Wendy DeWindt – SVP, Brand Leader
Stefanie Harbour – Brand Leader
Amy Hallochak – Assistant Account Executive
Sheryll Kollin, SVP, Director of Business Affairs
James Jakubiec – Senior Talent Manager

Composed by John Connolly & Adam Hochstatter
Produced by Future Perfect
Mix and SFX – Gold Sound
Clint Stuart

Executive Producer: Lydia Holness
Director: Eben Mears
Producer: Chelsea Hyon
Designers: Pedro Lavin, Kevin Li, Kim Dulaney, Eunice Kim
Storyboard: Ben Chan
2D Animation: Norlum 
Flame Artists: Aska Otake, Evan Schoonmaker