5 Reasons April The Giraffe Is The Best Thing On The Internet Right Now
Take one heavily pregnant giraffe, mix with the intrigue of not knowing exactly when her calf will be born; set up a live feed to YouTube, throw in a couple of sponsors, some branded merchandise, and a set of emoji’s. Then sit back, relax, and watch, as the rest of the world drives mass awareness of your cause (and business) for free! Don’t worry, these guys know exactly what they’re doing.
For the last few weeks, the internet has been on edge wondering exactly when April, the giraffe from Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, NY will finally give birth to her long-awaited fourth calf. A baby giraffe is exactly what the world needs in the midst of all the doom and gloom we’re facing. And the marketing campaign that surrounds it is pure genius. If only April herself knew just how important a case study she has become!
I think it could be up there with one of the best content marketing campaigns of all time; the April the Giraffe campaign has fast become the must watch daily activity for hundreds of thousands of people globally.
When the live feed began back in February, everyone assumed that the birth of April’s calf was imminent, but here we are; and April is almost upon us; both literally and figuratively. YouTubers are completely hooked, fixated on what could actually be described as a fairly boring video feed – a giraffe walking around in a relatively small pen, sometimes eating grass, less often sitting down, hardly ever sleeping (did you know giraffes only sleep about 2hrs a day in 10 minute bursts?). So, why is April so fascinating? Why is the world transfixed? Why are over 100k people watching the feed at any one time, sending messages of love to the live chat, and fighting each other to become the most prominent source of knowledge and resource on April the Giraffe?
Here’s 5 reasons why it’s so damn good.
Animals (well, most animals) always have, and always will be a universal symbol of peace, tranquillity and love. Whilst there are tragically some people in this world who see fit to harm animals; it’s fair to say that on the whole people love animals; and treat them as our friend. As we’ve all seen in the last few weeks, giraffes have a particular majesty and unmatched eloquence that distils a sense of calm. Just watching April walk around her pen relieves your stress, and makes us all think about what really matters in the world. It’s like a meditation for your soul. If you’re lucky enough that your business can use animals to promote its services, then you’re on to a winner before you start. Just look at comparethemeerkat.com for example. Insurance is not your typical animal related service, but the creative people at VCCP made it so; and some much-loved characters were born. Simples!
2. Mystery & Simplicity
Whether we care to admit it, or not, we all have ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out). No one wants to miss the latest; and in the same way that gambling plays with our psyche, so too does the imminent (plus or minus 60 days) arrival of April’s calf. Once you’ve watched for a bit, you feel the investment of your time would be wasted if you don’t see it through to the end! What if you switch off, and then she gives birth? Did you know, the birth itself will only take around 30-60 minutes? Much speculation abounds the online community about what will happen when the calf drops. Will they hurt themselves in the fall? Is there enough bedding on the ground to soften the fall? Will the park turn off the live feed when the calf drops? The intrigue and speculation continues, and social media provides its usual hotbed of rumour and misinformation. Then there’s the simplicity of it. Set up camera, turn on live feed, watch and wait. And the longer we wait, the great the brand awareness, the more people who tune in, and the larger the number of donations the park can achieve towards their cause.
In this day and age, where would a live feed be without a sponsorship? Luckily, the good people at Mazurri and Toys R Us have jumped on board to provide this. Pretty sure that feeding those 1200 pound giraffes (plus one to come) requires a fair bit of tucker, and there’s the cost of the campaign itself (i.e. website and app development, social media moderation and management, digital collateral creation etc.), but that’s not what the money is for. It’s really all about the giraffes. And that’s where the second type of sponsorship comes in. Having spent some time with April, why wouldn’t you want to sponsor your own giraffe? So, jump on board people, and with a few clicks of a mouse, you too can become a sponsor. A giraffe of your very own? Well, no, not really, but the genius of animal (and child) sponsorship is that it makes it feel personal. When you feel like you are putting your money towards a specific animal (or child), it feels less like you are giving money away ‘for free’ – it builds the value, and you receive an instant gratification, as well as that warm, fuzzy feeling we so often try to achieve with marketing. In reality it goes into one big pot, but let’s pretend that’s not true, so as not to derail this strategy for future use. Ultimately, it’s a great way to encourage and motivate people to donate to charity, and it provides them with something more tangible than a straight-forward donation.
4. Education & Action
This is the crux of the campaign. The real true purpose behind it. The park wants to educate people about the plight of giraffes in the wild. Did you know there are now fewer giraffes worldwide in the wild than there are elephants? Yet no one, until now, seems to be ringing their emergency bell and asking for help (at least not in such a public way). This campaign highlights the beauty, majesty and grace of these incredible creatures; and in doing so teaches not only about the animal itself; but also the danger of extinction, and the importance of breeding programs such as this one. In additional Facebook live videos, the zookeepers and park owner are quick and keen to educate us all on the general make up of a giraffe, their gestation period and what we can expect for the birth; and the breeding programs that they, and other organisations have in place to save the giraffe from extinction. A noble cause – turns out, giraffes are fascinating creatures and I’m certain most people would agree that we want then in our world. So, now we know, but what do we do about it? This campaign gives us plenty of opportunities to further embed ourselves in the ‘April the Giraffe’ brand, and in doing so, support the plight about which we are learning. Firstly, we can purchase a giraffe emoji pack on the app store – a handy little revenue stream that keeps the giraffe top of mind in daily life. Secondly, there is a shop with other branded merchandise. Thirdly, the aforementioned ‘sponsor a giraffe’ component; and finally, we can of course, visit the park itself. And let’s not forget the other dollar value that we, the viewers, bring. Free media exposure. The viral nature of the live feed, the supporting Facebook, the organic reach from likes and comments, and the immeasurable WOM. Every time we engage, we drive further exposure and awareness for the cause. Excellent.
So, when all is said and done, what kind of return can Animal Adventure Park expect on their investment? Well, overall, this is a highly cost effective campaign. Yes, there are some upfront costs for the website, emoji and digital collateral development, costs for merchandise and perhaps additional staff for the social media management and increased enquiries; but there’s no media or advertising cost whatsoever – and in fact, sponsors are lining up to pay them for logo exposure on the live feed. Happy days. The return will be seen in several ways. Firstly, next time you’re in NY looking for something to do for the day; who are you going to visit? That’s right people, April will be on your list for sure. So, the park will see an increase in foot traffic both now, and especially after the calf’s birth. Secondly, who bought some April merchandise, or the giraffe emoji’s? Go on, you know you fell for it! This campaign brings the park additional revenue streams with money going to future conservation and breeding programs; and ensuring our new giraffe calf is nurtured and cared for as they grow into an adult giraffe who is then fit for further breeding. The level of education around the plight of the giraffe has been increased globally with this campaign. People are talking about giraffes, and falling in love with them all over again.
Brand awareness. Tick. Brand engagement. Tick. Conversion. Tick. Loyalty. Tick. Advocacy. Tick.
If some of my words sound cynical, they’re not. I love everything about this campaign, and what I love most is that it uses marketing tactics for a true, and noble cause. So, next time you find yourself being cynical about marketing, stop and ask yourself the true purpose behind a campaign? Does a lot of marketing exist purely to ‘sell you stuff’? It sure does. But some marketing, maybe more than you realise, ‘sells you stuff’ for a really great reason. Congratulations Animal Adventure Park, and soon we’ll be able to say; ‘Congratulations April and Oliver!’ And with that said, I’m off to buy my giraffe emoji’s, and check in on the live feed.