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Leveraging events for great, targeted campaigns

Posted on Categories BrandonomicsTags

For the Houston Zoo, Zoo Lights was a great event that became the perfect targeted marketing campaign. Christine Warren, marketing director for the Houston Zoo, talks with Robin Tooms about their strategy for leveraging this huge event.

Robin: Hello, and welcome to this edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at top brands and their marketing strategies. I’m Robin Tooms, vice president of strategy at Savage, and my guest again today is Christine Warren, marketing director from the Houston Zoo. So Christine, welcome back to Brandonomics.

Christine: It’s good to be here, Robin, thank you.

Robin: Well, I am so glad you’re here. I know that the zoo does a lot of events, but one of them really shone bright last year, and that was your Zoo Lights, your kind of annual holiday-themed nighttime event. So what was it about this event that made it really special from an event marketing perspective?

Christine: One of the things we were able to do with the addition of Zoo Lights is really reach out to companies about having their corporate holiday parties at the Houston Zoo. And that’s a program that we’ve done for years, but this added another element of entertainment that they were going to get at their company holiday party that they wouldn’t get anywhere else in the city of Houston. So we were really excited to be able to reach out to that group specifically.

Robin: So how did you market to them? What did you do to let them know about this?

Christine: Well, one of the things that we did was a holiday card piece that had a really stunning visual, actually, of a giraffe catching a snowflake, and we sent it out in September. It looked like a holiday card, and it came in a red envelope, and it said Happy Holidays across the front. And what we wanted to do with that piece was for people to receive it and kind of wonder, “Why am I getting a holiday card in September?” and open it up. And inside was when they learned all about Zoo Lights and how that would be able to add to their company holiday party and make it something really unique.

Robin: So did Holly Berry, your art car mascot, make an appearance at these events?

Christine: Holly Berry was at Zoo Lights every night. She was front and center. She was definitely one of the main attractions of the night. She has thousands of lights. They dance to the music, and so she was at Zoo Lights every night, but also made some appearances off-site at other events throughout the city as well. She definitely is a mascot for the event overall.

Robin: Great. Well thank you so much, Christine. It’s good to hear about these kind of different diverse event marketing events beyond the major events.

Christine: Thank you.

Robin: This has been another edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at top brand and their marketing strategies.


The Houston Zoo provides housing, meals, medical care and education for more than 6,000 permanent resident animals. Its mission is to provide a fun, unique and inspirational experience fostering appreciation, knowledge and care for the natural world for each of their more than 1.84 million annual guests.

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