Step Right Up and See the Creatures of the Deep

NEW YORK Taking a cue from the storied Coney Island location of the New York Aquarium, an outdoor campaign by Young & Rubicam, which broke on Monday, touts the attraction as a kind of boardwalk sideshow for fish.

In seven outdoor billboards and posters, alien stingers and sea anemone become “Bizarre beauties from the deep” that are “Half He!” “Half She!” and “Living creatures with no arms!” Bright illustrations give the billboards a retro feel, and were designed to attract the attention of children and parents alike.

“We want kids to walk by and think, ‘Wow, these things are cool, I gotta go see those!’ instead of just seeing a sea plant,” said Stuart Garrett, Y&R creative director and art director.

The new work marks a departure from last year’s campaign, which was tagged “Sea life” and incorporated photographs of fish.

“The concept of a lot of campaigns in the past showed shots of exotic animals with witty headlines,” Garrett said. “We wanted to do something a little different this year.”

The creative team, which also included executive creative director Betsy Petropoulos, creative director and copywriter Ted McCagg and art buyer Jeffrey Thomas, did research on historical Coney Island “oddity” posters as well as the sea creatures themselves to determine the “different, weird” things they could play up in the posters, Garrett said.

“We wanted to do something that made these animals bigger than life, bigger than what they are,” said McCagg.

Illustrator Marc Burckhardt of Austin, Texas, was commissioned to paint the artwork used in the campaign.

The ads are running on buses and billboards in New York. Campaign spending was undisclosed.