Fort Worth Zoo



When the Fort Worth Zoo enlisted Schaefer Advertising to help drive people to their new African Savanna exhibit, we couldn’t wait to take the bull by the horns and get to work. Our team was able to come up with a rich campaign that encapsulated the spirit of the exciting new exhibit.

The new African Savanna exhibit was built around a central prairie that houses giraffes, springbok, ostriches and many more species all in one exhibit. A winding path gives visitors a 360-degree view of the animals in the prairie and allows people to get closer to the animals than ever before. This creates a truly unique experience for each visitor and ensures that no two visits are alike. The main attractions are the hippo exhibit that includes above-water and underwater viewing, and the giraffe feeding deck. The new Savanna exhibit features shaded viewing spaces and is surrounded by an aviary that houses a variety of bird species.


  • Generate awareness of the new African Savanna exhibit
  • Send interested web traffic to the Zoo’s website
  • Drive more ticket sales centered around new exhibits

The Approach

The Get Closer campaign was created to highlight the capabilities of the new African Savanna exhibit and emphasize the intimate experience that the space offers visitors. We needed to clearly communicate that the African Savanna allows patrons the opportunity to get closer to the animals than ever before, and illuminate the giraffe feeding platform, and the hippo exhibit.

Before launching the campaign, our team developed a detailed multimedia strategy that would get more people interested in exploring the African Savanna exhibit. To deploy a fully-integrated campaign, we incorporated digital and broadcast ads alongside more traditional out-of-home ads in the form of pole banners, billboards and bus benches that were placed in strategic positions throughout the metroplex.

The Creative

The campaign featured the two stars of the new exhibit: the underwater hippo viewing area, and the elevated giraffe feeding station. Schaefer developed concepts that communicated the intimacy of the space, while also inviting audiences to look adventure in the eye.

We really enjoy using a medium to its full potential and thinking about new ways to use traditional mediums that command consumer attention. For the Get Closer hippo billboard, we used extensions to maximize the real estate on the board and communicate the capability of the new hippo viewing area. By extending the hippo’s head over the top of the board, we were able to mimic the water line and show viewers the capabilities of the exhibit.

Savanna TV Spot

We chose to use the African Savanna TV spot to expand and support the campaign’s core idea of “getting closer” to the animals and take local families on an authentic African safari right in the heart of Fort Worth. The commercial features children and families getting close enough to the animals to play a small game of “monkey-see, monkey-do,” and interacting with the new exhibit’s animal kingdom. Filming animals is unpredictable, but the “talent” decided that they were ready for their closeups and behaved like seasoned professionals.

The Results

  • The weekend after campaign launch saw a 316% increase in ticket sales compared to the weekend before campaign launch.
  • The 60 days after campaign launch sold greater than 35,000 more tickets than the same 60-day segment in 2017, for a 14.3% increase in ticket sales.
  • Standard media display click-thru-rate 216% higher than industry benchmark of .06%.
  • Rich media display click-thru-rate 46% higher than industry average of 2.25%.

Making Life Better

At Schaefer, we strive to make life better with each project that we take on and in every conversation we have. Going to the Fort Worth Zoo is an incredible experience, and it’s an honor to work with an organization that practices such extensive conservation efforts. Feeding a giraffe or standing eye-to-eye with a hippopotamus is such a joy for people of all ages and working to share that experience with a wider audience was the big cat’s pajamas.

February 20, 2017

A zoo with a sweet tooth

Ghouls, Goblins… Gorillas? For many Halloween events, the goal is to frighten the audience enough to draw them to see the main course. But the Fort Worth Zoo has a 20-year tradition of tickling the terror out of Halloween, with Boo at the Zoo.
Boo at the Zoo is a kid-centric Halloween event where you can trick-or-treat for candy among animal friends. This year’s event had: carnival games, treat stations, stage shows, Wild Encounters (the zoo’s ongoing animal handlers with friendly critters) and a pumpkin patch .
The campaign features a fun play on the classic Halloween candy. Its unique visual solution highlights the Zoo event that entertains sugar-crazed kids every year. We created a direct mail, outdoor billboard, bus bench, email, print and radio ads, and display campaign.
Our Boo at the Zoo efforts led to an:

excess in the revenue goal

excess in the sponsor goal

December 27, 2016

A wilder vision


The Fort Worth Zoo, one of the top 5 zoos in the country, is undertaking a massive expansion campaign, with the goal of raising $100 million dollars to expand the park. The expansion will include new exhibit space, renovated habitats, special events space, multiple dining areas, and most importantly, new ways to observe, interact with and learn about animals. The expansion will guarantee for future generations the survival of many endangered species.

The Zoo needed a clever solution to bring this capital initiative campaign to life to the Fort Worth and surrounding communities. Schaefer Advertising was tasked with developing an integrated media strategy and creative campaign to drive awareness, engagement, ambassadorship and donations.

On September 12, Fort Worth got water-colored. The Fort Worth Zoo kicked off the public phase of its $100 million capital campaign by promoting splashes of color all over the city. For 5 weeks, the community chattered with speculation on what this “advertising as art” represented. The campaign evolved over the following weeks, with each phase revealing a little bit more of the campaign. Culminating with a launch event for community leaders, the campaign revealed the public-facing fundraising effort.

 Campaign Goals:

  • Generate awareness of “A Wilder Vision,” the Fort Worth Zoo’s plans for significant expansion over the next 8 years.
  • Drive donations from the Dallas-Fort Worth Community.
  • Drive web traffic to the Zoo’s giving site in order to generate excitement and process donations.


Our reporting approach consisted of consolidating data from multiple sources such as social media platforms, display networks, and external and internal email platforms for a multi-phased campaign approach. By making continuous optimizations throughout the campaign, we were able to drive the below performance wins.

In the quiet phase, the Zoo raised approximately $90 million of the $100 million goal, with the public facing campaign focused on generating the remaining $10 million. The campaign continued until the end of November and will begin again in FY2017.


Display engagement rates above the industry benchmarks

Increase in traffic, from Phase 1 to Phase 2

Lift in impressions from Phase 1 to Phase 2

Increase in web sign-ups from Phase 1 to Phase 2

Above industry performance benchmark open rates for email


















September 27, 2016

Texas’ wildest dance hall!

If you live in DFW, you’re most likely familiar with the Fort Worth Zoo and may be familiar with their largest annual fundraiser, Zoo Ball. Every year Zoo Ball attracts some of the biggest names in the area to support the Zoo’s local and international wildlife conservation and education efforts. The invitation for the event has always been closely tied to the theme; i.e. last year’s Zoo Ball at the Flamingo or the previous year’s Festival of the Elephants. The theme and focus of this year’s event was to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Texas Wild!, a portion of the Zoo that exhibits our great state’s different regional landscapes and wildlife.

Instead of the black tie formal-wear of years past—in the words of Alan Jackson–“We’re goin’ country!” And with a performance from Clint Black, Zoo Ball was set to be a cowboy cocktail-themed success. Our minds immediately went to the honky-tonk wood floors of Gruene Hall and Nashville-inspired Hatch Show Prints. So with the direction of “Big Hair, Boots, and Beers,” our team went on its westward way.


Our hearts were set on creating a distinctly Zoo deliverable with the romance and heritage of wood block letterpress. Letterpress, simply explained, is pressing ink onto paper via wood, metal or hand carved letters and images. This process dominated commercial printing from the 1400’s to the mid-twentieth century. In today’s digital era, this process is celebrated for it’s unmatched nuance of color and texture.

To produce our limited edition set of prints, we sought out Minnesota-based premium letterpress studio, Studio On Fire. After following (and admiring) their work from afar, we were excited to partner with them for the project. With their help, our vision for the western-inspired prints came to life, complete with a blind emboss of the Fort Worth Zoo logo and hand-numbering of each print.

We created three custom illustrations that combined cowboy regalia with exotic wildlife found in the Fort Worth Zoo, bringing together the key elements of the event. These illustrations were paired with wood block-styled type, set to mimic posters of old. We created three “sayings” for the print set:

Deep in the Heart of Texas Wild!
Long Necks Ain’t Nothin’
Without Rednecks

Big Hair, Boots & Beer


The final invitation is truly a complete package. An oversized envelope features a rustic Texas flag and warns ‘Don’t Bend or Fold or Mess with Texas’. Custom postage features animal illustrations and the Zoo logo. A hand-crafted pattern featuring Texas sayings, Clint Black lyrics, Fort Worth nods and custom animal illustrations floods the insert upon opening. And finally the prints are secured by a custom bellyband with event details and slip-sheeted for safety.

The event sold out of tickets and was both appropriately rowdy and respected. Even with fears of rain, the Zoo reassured its patrons: a little weather can’t stop our boot-scootin’ and tequila-shootin’.

July 15, 2016

Now Playing

On the heels of our spring campaign launch, that introduced Gus, the baby gorilla to the world, we are proud to showcase our new TV spot for the Fort Worth Zoo. This spot is a 30 second summary highlighting the fun, educational and majestic moments that happen everyday at the zoo. With over 400 different species of animals, 15 different exhibits and attractions, it’s an experience that changes with every visit.
Over two days, we filmed all-new footage throughout the zoo and captured special moments from over 15 different exhibits and attractions including everyone’s favorite, baby Gus.

Projects like this one allow us to immerse ourselves in our client’s world as well as the experience of their customers. We learn as we explore and we look for unique ways to tell a story that people can relate to. Its a challenge that we embrace and let’s be honest, we have a lot of fun with it too.

Explore these interactive 360 videos/photos by clicking on the image and dragging around. Its a unique perspective of what its like on set.

Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

We partnered with N8 Visuals and Sheffield Creative to bring the spot to life and tell this fun story of the Fort Worth Zoo experience.


May 24, 2016

Feast with the beasts

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Beastro, the Fort Worth Zoo’s annual music and tasting event that supports local and international wildlife conservation and education efforts. Within a few weeks of this year’s campaign going live, Fort Worth’s wild side responded with record breaking ticket sales and a fastest ever, sold out VIP offering.
The event features the finest area restaurants stationed throughout the Zoo, serving sample appetizers, entrees and desserts. In addition to the delectable cuisine, the event features open bars throughout the park and live music entertainment. Several animal exhibits remain open until sunset. This year’s entertainment features the local talents of: Emerald City, The Project and Live 80.

The event sold out, for the first time ever, and we had to stop the ad campaign early. The night was a success from ticket sales, but our team also successfully enjoyed the feast with the beasts.

May 3, 2016

Meet baby gus

Everyone loves babies. I mean, everyone with a soul loves babies. And that’s why when there is a new baby at the Fort Worth Zoo, we all get a little excited. So when the Fort Worth Zoo told us, months in advance, that they were expecting the birth of a western lowland gorilla, we began developing a launch plan to make the announcement. In our initial phases of planning, we identified key challenges that the campaign would need to overcome in order to be effective. The first was that baby gorillas basically mirror a human child in terms of growth and development. This means that for the first few months, the zoo’s newest star, Gus, was going to spend most of his time sleeping and never be more than a few inches from the arms of his mother, Gracie. And, like most moms, Gracie is a wee bit protective. In spite of the infant gorilla not being mobile or very active at all for that matter, we had to find a way to get people excited about coming to see Gus.
Which leads to the second challenge – how do you photograph a tiny black fur ball held closely in the clutches of his mom? Add in the fact that parents, Gracie and Elmo and new baby Gus, live in a secure designed area, plus wanting to minimize any disruptions to their normal activities, you don’t exactly have an Olan Mills photo studio in which to capture that “perfect” baby picture.
But usually, it’s the challenges that lead you to your solution. And this was no different. Think about it, what does every new parent do? Your Facebook feed is proof, that every new parent posts every single progress update. “Here’s junior sleeping in is blue onesie. Now, here’s junior sleeping in his yellow one that Aunt Marge from Des Moines bought him. Oh, wait, now his eyes are open, oh wait, never mind.” You get the idea. So we decided to build the campaign around the experiences that every parent wants to show their child doing. Eating. Playing. Sleeping. Riding.
Using the zoo’s photography documenting Gus and Gracie’s relationship, we created an “interactive” campaign that gives Zoo goers a reason to come back frequently over the coming months. Visit The Fort Worth Zoo today because as we all know, they only stay babies for just a little while.

February 10, 2016

A summer oasis

It only seems natural that when tasked with solving the summer heat, the Fort Worth Zoo would look to their animal’s strategy: The watering hole.
One of the coolest mysteries of the year, was the 14,000-square-foot, zero-depth splash called Safari Splash. We created member invites, an email campaign and an identity system to introduce this all-new attraction. The new addition featured climbing structures, 3 slides, 26 water play features, a dump tower and water cannons to cool off at the Zoo no matter what the temperature.
While we waited on the site production to finish, one of our kids might have spilled the beans to their pre-K class that they were spending their summer at the Zoo’s water park. Don’t they say that’s the best form of advertising?

September 27, 2015

Zoo Ball at the Flamingo

The Story

Each year the Fort Worth Zoo hosts an annual gala event, Zoo Ball, to raise money in support of the zoo’s ongoing mission of conservation. In a city as large and philanthropically minded as Fort Worth, it’s absolutely vital to break through the noise of other worthy charity events. This year being the 30th anniversary, the planning committee held high expectations for all aspects of the party. Dubbed 1940’s Las Vegas nightclub themed, we set on the path to creating a high-end invitation the encompassed the elegant event.

The Work

To define the tone of the event, our first step was to create inspiration boards. Focusing on high end elements, animal details and historic landmarks, we created the visual foundation for the invitation and ultimately the event. During our research, we discovered that Bugsy Siegel’s legendary Flamingo was one of the first nightclubs in Las Vegas. Leveraging the iconic venue, we titled the event Zoo Ball at the Flamingo. Just like that, the perfect animal pairing for our period event was born.

Harnessing the juxtaposition of larger-than-life Vegas shows within dark, unassuming nightclubs, we developed the concept for an elaborate three dimensional pop-up invitation. Though we may not be paper engineers per se, we always aim to seek what’s possible. Concept turned into reality through partnership with Cockrell Enovation and Structural Graphics, good ‘ole trial and error and more than one paper cut.

The end result is a structural masterpiece. The custom envelope was built to ensure the piece would not get damaged in mailing. The guests were presented with what appears to be a flat “standard” invitation. But upon opening, two pink flamingos emerge from the pages of the invitation, unfolding into an incredible display of creativity and paper construction.

The Results

This year’s event sold out in record time and successfully raised a record-setting amount for the Zoo. Invitees began posting videos of the invitation on social media. And yet again, the bar was raised a little higher for next year.


Schaefer was awarded a gold national Addy for the 2015 Zoo Ball invitation, for the second year in a row! To give it some context, we were one of only 83 gold winners out of 40,000 entries. We’re incredibly proud of our back-to-back wins and excited to represent Fort Worth among some of the top agencies in the country.

Check out the complete List of 2016 National Gold Addy Winners


June 10, 2015

Party. Animals.

Each year, the Fort Worth Zoo brings together some of the best restaurants and music acts in town for a tasting and music event called Beastro. For this year’s campaign, we boiled it down to the essentials.