Copper Offers Chilling Safari Tales in Zoo Spots

Copper Advertising created over-the-top scenarios to convey the dedication of Binder Park Zoo’s staff in a new campaign that promotes the park’s Wild Africa exhibit.

The campaign includes four 30-second TV spots and four outdoor boards.

The spots, shot at the Battle Creek, Mich., zoo, were developed in collaboration with Hungry Man, the New York production company that handles the ESPN and E-Trade campaigns.

The spots show a fictional zoo director named Greg McKnight and “Jon”, the zoo’s field correspondent, who are said to be in Africa. The footage has a documentary feel, with the director, whose look and delivery is similar to Dave Thomas of Wendy’s, talking about how the zoo works hard to bring attendees “an authentic safari experience.” He calls on Jon for a report.

During each of the spots, Jon is hit with one overdrawn calamity or another, and falls over, nearly dead, midway through his report. First, he’s bitten by a Tsetse fly, then hit by darts thrown by villagers, then bitten by a Black Mamba snake and finally brought down by poison berries. The McKnight character responds with a droll comment like “That’s going to leave quite a welt,” for the Tsetse fly or “that’s no garter snake,” after the snake attack. The spots close with the tagline, “Binder Park Zoo’s Wild Africa. A lot goes into it.”

Hyperbole aside, zoo employees went to great lengths to ensure authenticity in the exhibit, including trips to Africa during the off-season, said Dean Gemmell, creative director at the Kalamazoo, Mich., agency. “We wanted to convey that, but in a fun way,” he said.