Standing outside Wellington’s Te Papa Museum is a cargo container tagged with warnings of the prehistoric live cargo carried within. And in the event that skeptics doubt the veracity of these cautions, the growl that comes from within serves to quickly convince them that something terrifying is concealed behind the corrugated iron.
This quirky outdoor installation forms only part of the multi-faceted campaign that Te Papa Museum has rolled out over the past few months in an effort to encourge families to purchase tickets for ‘Tyrannosaurus: Meet the Family’, an exhibition that showcases the period when reptiles reigned supreme.
To create hype before the exhibition opened on 27 September, Te Papa handed out thousands of postcards to museum visitors during the July holidays.
Then in August, following on from this initial rollout, Te Papa took the campaign digital by creating a Twitter account under the handle scotty_trex, which is currently being used by the short-armed dinosaur to share its thoughts on eating, relaxing, exercising and life in general.
Since first joining the twittersphere, the T-Rex has already accumulated almost 900 followers and has already sent out over 380 tweets, and some of the correspondence has been pretty entertaining in a dad joke kind of way.
— T.rex at Te Papa (@scotty_trex) November 29, 2014
Scotty, a 35kg puppet, then also added an experiential element to the campaign when it emerged from the cargo container on 8 September, driving national broadcast, online and print media coverage.
And given that dinosaurs are known enjoy a bit of sightseeing, Scotty then went on something of an adventure, exploring Wellington attractions such as the Cable Car and Oriental Bay on film during the school holidays.
More recently, the promotion has also extended into cinemas and is playing during the trailers of the final film in the Hobbit trilogy.
But it wasn’t only about the kids. Te Papa also held ParrotDog Jurassic Pale Ale Beer tastings and exhibition viewing evenings, attracting a demographic that may not have otherwise explored the exhibition.
In addition to these quirkier executions, the campaign was also supported with traditional media in the shape of editorial content and advertising in magazines and newspapers in the Wellington region.
According to a Te Papa spokesperson, the campaign has already driven some impressive results for the museum, and this is expected to continue during the warmer months.
“Attendance to Tyrannosaurs: Meet the Family has been fantastic, with more than 60,000 visitors in the first two months,” says the spokesperson. “We know from previous experience that having a family-focused exhibition over summer really works for both Te Papa and Wellington, so we’re looking forward to a lot of people stopping by with their children on summer road trips as they cross between the islands, as well as making special trips to the city.”
Every year, Te Papa and Positively Wellington Tourism—and in this case Touchcast and OMD—work together closely to promote two major exhibitions running in the museum. In contrast to the other exhibitions in the museum, visitors are charged to attend these special events. And while they do create a revenue source for the museum, the spokesperson says that this isn’t necessarily the point of hosting these events..
“Entrance fee or not, the objectives are always to reach audiences in unique and memorable ways,” says the spokesperson. “These larger campaigns help to drive awareness about Te Papa and draw crowds, which then explore other areas of the museum such as Ngā Toi | Arts Te Papa on Level 5, the museum’s regularly changing programme of art from the national collection.”
Creative: Touchcast & Di Leva Design
Puppet: from Erth Visual & Physical Inc