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.

Launch the campaign
Published
August 2013
Topics

The Story

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.

We rigged motion sensors in the enclosure of a honey badger called ‘BG’, dividing his home into six zones. These sensors talk to a server that holds a database of hundreds of pre-written BG tweets. As BG moves from zone to zone, the motion sensors pick up his location and automatically trigger real-time tweets from his Twitter account. Using built-from-scratch coding, we ensure the tweets are relevant to what he’s doing at the time. For example, feeding time: "For what I am about to receive, may my stomach be forever grateful."

The Technology

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.

618%

ROI on media spend

6

million dollars earned media

Launch Date June 14, 2013