Johannesburg Zoo

The tweeting badger

The Challenge

The Johannesburg Zoo wanted to get people excited about its animals, while spotlighting zoo news and causes, but had limited budget and human resources. For a solution, it turned to the power of social media and created the world’s first live-tweeting badger. By having an animal tweet directly to the public, it redefined its communications strategy and pushed the boundaries of social media.

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The Idea

We tapped into the one resource that the Johannesburg Zoo has in abundance… their animals.

We created a high-tech animal enclosure that enables the zoo’s mascot, a resident honey badger named BG, to tweet about what he is doing and thinking throughout the day. As BG moves around his enclosure, our custom -designed system picks up on his activities and body language, and issues relevant real-time tweets from his Twitter account. Through this innovative technology, we were able to transform one of the zoo’s very own animals into their official Social Media spokesperson spokesanimal.

Collateral Craft

Posters pushing to social media

In order to further drive a following for BG, we put posters up around the zoo. The posters quite literally – and quite humorously – depict the world from a badger’s point of view. After giving people a small taste of the kind of humour they could look forward to, the posters encouraged people to follow ‘The World’s First LIVE Tweeting Badger’ on Twitter and reminded them to visit BG’s enclosure before they left.

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The Results

The campaign quickly garnered a strong international following, gaining 5,000 followers from 50 tweets during the first week and over 9,500 in the first month. BG has trended on Twitter locally, been on many major sites and blogs (including Times Live, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, TED and more) and made major press, radio and television appearances worldwide. We believe that what made the project a stand-out success was the combination of an innovative use of technology, a great lead character and fun, engaging content.