Like most other zoos around the country, the Phoenix Zoo from time to time brings in special exhibits and events to generate more buzz in the local market. For the peak 2018-2019 season, it was their Bugs! Big Bugs! Exhibit that took center stage. Featuring thirteen larger-than-life animatronic and real live bugs. With some weighing in at 4,000 pounds and 21 feet long, the animatronic bugs at the Phoenix Zoo were, well... big.

The goal for the Bugs! exhibit was to make sure everyone in the market knew this was an educational and entertainment experience that both individuals and families can enjoy. Ultimately this had to lead to an increase in the number of general admission tickets sold with the Bugs! add-on experience as an enhancement.


  • Branding & market research 
  • Creative concepting & production
  • Content marketing
  • Integrated marketing
  • Digital media
  • Traditional media
phoenix zoo big bugs billboard

The Challenge

The Zoo competes not only with other zoos and animal experiences in the market for discretionary spending, but also with other entertainment destinations oriented towards families -- sports, movies, etc. During this time period, there was no other exhibit remotely like this in town, so we had a huge opportunity to stand out. 

The challenge ultimately boiled down to how do you convey the gigantic nature of the bugs without having to actually show the bugs?

The Solution - Conveying a Larger-Than-Life Exhibit

The obvious choice would have been to show the giant bugs in our ads, which we felt would ruin the surprise. We chose to go with the not so obvious approach. We were able to convey the larger-than-life nature of the exhibit by using the shadows of the bugs rather than the bugs themselves. It was more suggestive and gave a chance for the “theater of the mind” of what the exhibit might be like. We aimed for a simple look and feel with attention-grabbing graphic imagery, and messaging that would appeal to both parents and children.

Phoenix zoo big bugs billboard child

Creative Executions - We Wish It Were Always This Easy

There’s nothing like a 23-foot-long scorpion or a gigantic stag beetle to get the creative juices flowing. Our team ran wild with this assignment and created a variety of campaign concepts to share with our friends at the Zoo. Any one of them we would have been happy to produce. And our clients clearly felt the same way. They couldn’t decide on just one direction. So we ended up doing pieces from a few different campaigns for them. Two different outdoor concepts and a separate concept for TV and radio.

Phoenix zoo bugs billboards

Unique Creative Solution Drove the Media Strategy

From a media perspective, out-of-home (OOH) offered us the best opportunity to showcase our unique creative approach in a meaningful way. OOH allowed us to convey BIG in a very literal way, and was the focal point of the campaign. Digital display, social ads, TV, membership emails, and more were also utilized. From an OOH perspective, we geo-located by their main competition and in pockets of heavy traffic that we knew would get a more attentive look.


Winner - Winner

In addition to bringing a lot of people through the gates at the Phoenix Zoo, our BUGS! work also brought home some serious hardware. We cleaned up at the Phoenix Addys, winning five gold awards and the Judges Choice Award. Then our shadow executions competed against some of the biggest agencies from all around the world at the prestigious OBIE Awards (recognizing creativity in the out-of-home advertising (OOH) industry) and brought home a silver. We couldn’t be more proud!


"I continue to enjoy working with our LT Team. I appreciate their attention to detail and creative ideas."

-Tricia Bump - Director of Marketing & Corporate Relations (Phoenix Zoo)


"We’re incredibly proud of this campaign and the recognition it received from our peers in the world of advertising."

-Ian Barry - Chief Creative Officer (LaneTerralever)


Obie awards