Zoological Stress Reduction

The Detroit Zoo is typically considered a destination for family fun, animal curiosity, and entertainment. It’s an experience that provides both entertainment and education. However, the positive effects of zoo visitation is far reaching—particularly its impact on stress reduction. According to the American Psychological Association, nearly all of us has at least one thing that’s stressing us out. To put this to the test, we partnered with the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) to conducted a psychophysiological experiment to empirically assess the effects of zoo visitation. Research participants were hooked up with electrodes in a laboratory setting that measured stress indicators such as heart rate, skin conductance, and facial reactions. When they were introduced to Detroit Zoo otters, giraffes and butterflies. Pulses slowed. Heart rates decreased. Moods lifted. The goal of this campaign was to reposition the Detroit Zoo as a destination for more than just family fun, but a means for stress reduction. In doing so, DZS is empowered to help solve a different job than it was previously known to do in an effort to drive visitation.

The study gave us permission to say a “visit to the Detroit Zoo is scientifically proven to reduce stress,” repositioning the zoo as more than a place for family fun, but also an additional outlet for wellness. This campaign was designed to reach people who are actively seeking a little R&R. Ergo, our target audience isn’t defined by demographics, but a shared mindset. As daily life becomes evermore chaotic and demanding, more people are using their time and money in the pursuit of wellness. From slow flow and meditation, to gravity blankets and bullet journaling, working adults are resorting to all kinds of methods for managing their stress. Poke fun at goat yoga all you want, but don’t underestimate the booming wellness industry. It’s valued at a whopping $4.2 trillion, having grow 13% in the last two years according to a 2019 report by The Global Wellness Institute. Considering the stress reducing effect of viewing animals, the wellness craze is the perfect cultural touchstone for the Detroit Zoo to leverage.

We contextually launched the campaign on April 15, Tax Day, when we knew people across metro-Detroit were sure to be stressing out. On the day of the launch we conquested twitter, responding to Metro-Detroiters who were tweeting about feeling stressed, with custom Detroit Zoo animal memes and a gentle nudge to visit the zoo for some stress relief. The results of the campaign drove zoo attendance which outperformed visitation protections (elevated from the previous year) by 4%.