Creative Minds at Work

This is a guest post by CBSG Member and Climate Reality Leader Madelon Willemsen. Look for more guest posts about this topic in the coming weeks.


This second blog will give you an insight—without spilling the beans—on how the creative team works to develop the zoo climate reality communication campaign.

So how do these advertising agencies create creative work? You might think of Mad Men, the TV series in which Don Draper and Roger Sterling run a successful advertising agency. Their success seemed dependent on the creative brain of one man: Don Draper. Their creative process looked like this: Draper and his team met with the client, after which he would send the team off to work under a lot of pressure to ‘create’ something amazing and present it back to the client. Often they couldn’t pull it off, and Don Draper would have to swoop in with his genius to save them.

I have found that this does not really represent real life. Modern ad agencies have a number of great brains working together. They are much more professional and structured, but still have a lot of fun developing creative campaigns (though there is no smoking and drinking during working hours!).

For the purposes of this campaign, I, Madelon, am representing the client, the zoo and aquarium community, and provide the inside knowledge required for the team to understand the zoo and aquarium business, and the needs, requirements and objectives of the campaign. As part of the team, I am also being included in the creative process.

So what is this creative process like? Even though it does not follow a strict pattern, there are steps to ensure the creative team receives the information and understands the boundaries to create and ensure the client will be satisfied with the outcomes. Below is a very brief representation of this process:

The creative process for this campaign is guided by four key considerations:

-    the opportunity for zoos and aquariums to form a global and non-political collective adding to their brand positioning as conservation powerhouses;
-    ensuring that the zoo and aquarium visitors make the connection, gain understanding, and are provided with a call to action;
-    the opportunity to help threatened species now and directly; and
-    the opportunity to play a role in reducing the long-term effects of climate change on biodiversity.


One of the outputs that the creative team works with is the "Manifesto." The Manifesto sets the tone and direction for the creative work. It is a written piece that encapsulates the creative idea, but is not the actual creative work. 

Below is a brief excerpt from one of the earlier drafts:

Joining the dots for every single visitor, between an animal they particularly admire and the ordinary day-to-day behavior they can change to save it.

So, that every one of those 700 million visitors, not only leaves a re-affirmed animal lover, but an ambassador, an advocate for a different way of life.

One that believes in taking climate action, however small, because it is so inextricably linked to animal preservation.

We hope to have given you an insight in how these creative mights design impactful creative campaigns. Look at for our next and last blog in the week before the CBSG annual meeting! In the meantime – for any questions or comments, contact Madelon.willemsen@gmail.com.

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