“Expand their Horizons”

CLIENT: Texas State Aquarium
CAMPAIGN: Expand their horizons
EXHIBIT: Branding of Aquarium
OBJECTIVE: Counter recessionary downturn and increase attendance

The Texas State Aquarium is in Corpus Christie, Texas and overlooks the Gulf of Mexico. As the country fell into recession in 2009, the Aquarium was concerned the recession would impact attendance. To help stem the tide, the Aquarium wanted to position itself as an experience that had true value for families.

Although the Aquarium’s adult admission price was a very reasonable $10, the price was still perceived as too costly for a significant portion of the region’s Hispanic market, which was over 50% of the population. There is also a bridge that separates the Aquarium from 95% of the city and the area is perceived as being “over there.” Normal travel routes don’t bring people past the Aquarium so they are reluctant to make the trip.

Based on other recessions, we could project that people would reduce overall spending as their discretionary income shrank. Travel plans would be cut back or curtailed altogether. Historically, and on a more positive note, we knew that people tend to seek out “entertainment” because it provides a distraction and emotional relief.

We developed two campaign approaches that could counter the potential negative repercussions of a downturn while reinforcing the Aquarium’s value to the community.

Aspirational Value
The Aquarium gives parents an affordable way to add a layer of education and discovery to their children’s lives. They can feel that they’re providing the best parenting possible and adding value to the lives of their family for a token investment.

Monetary Value
The Aquarium provides an exceptional experience for the money that can’t be matched by other entertainment or educational venues.

We developed our big idea to position the Aquarium as a valuable, emotionally rewarding place where one could add a layer of education and discovery to a child’s life.

Expand their Horizons.

We chose TV as the vehicle to communicate our aspirational value message.  We shot three TV spots at the three most valued exhibits during one full day of filming.

We cast a Hispanic family for one of the commercials and ran it on the Spanish language broadcast channel.


The local paper had a “banner” ad program that would allow us to place a new message at the bottom of the front page twice a week. So we had the opportunity to rotate in new messages promoting both the aspirational and monetary value the Aquarium provided families.

PRINT- Aspirational (click to enlarge)

PRINT – Monetary Value (click to enlarge)

We reinforced the campaign with an outdoor mix of both aspirational and monetary value messages.

OUTDOOR – Aspirational (click to enlarge)

OUTDOOR – Monetary Value (click to enlarge)

We also addressed the “over there” issue with a strategically placed outdoor board on the other side of the bridge.

OUTDOOR – Over There (click to enlarge)

The Aquarium not only maintained its attendance numbers from the previous year, it increased attendance and reached the half-million mark for the first time. The success was attributed to an increase in repeat visits and generating a 5% increase in Hispanic attendance.