New England Aquarium Rebrands Under Connelly Partners

As perception of traditional aquariums continues to turn negative, particularly among crucial younger audiences, the New England Aquarium is transforming from a cultural institution focused on ocean education into a global marine conservation organization.

This new direction was largely driven by the aquarium's new President-CEO Vikki Spruill, who joined in August 2018 and previously worked in marine conservation and philanthropy.

She collaborated with longtime agency partner Connelly Partners to leverage insight among consumers who want to feel like their actions have purpose, inviting them to join in on the aquarium’s mission to Protect the Blue Planet, simply through the cost of admission. 

“The biggest challenge was overcoming the perception the aquarium was simply a place to come see inhabitants of the ocean," explains  Sid Murlidhar, group creative director at Connelly Partners. "We wanted to communicate the aquarium is more than a display. It’s actively protecting the ocean through its research, advocacy and initiatives."



The campaign underscores how ticket sales go directly to fund conservation efforts, such as the New England Aquarium’s Marine Conservation Action Fund and efforts to save North Atlantic right whales from extinction. 

The new advocacy brand platform will be reflected across everything from the visitor experience to messaging across platforms. The campaign includes out-of-home (highway billboards, transit ads in South Station and on MBTA bus lines, bike share and recycling bin signage), radio, digital display and paid social. 

Early results have been positive, says Murlidhar. Our use of coral and color to communicate the importance of ticket sales to preservation have clearly struck a chord, he notes.

"The simplicity of the campaign lies in the activation of the ticket. That buying a ticket does so much more than grant access to the aquarium, it helps the aquarium protect the waters, the coral and the inhabitants," he adds.

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