Devised by Hellocomputer and constructed by tech wizard at BinarySpace, Tom van den Bon, Johannesburg Zoo has recently launched a campaign featuring the world’s first live-tweeting badger. With the help of some innovative technology, BG the resident honey badger and the zoo’s mascot has added ‘official Social Media spokesanimal’ to his repertoire.
The team created a high-tech animal enclosure with specially designed sensors that pick up BG’s location and automatically trigger tweets from his Twitter account. The motion-triggered, animal-friendly sensors have been installed at several places in the spacious enclosure and connect wirelessly to an on-site base station located outside the enclosure. The base station is itself connected to the agency’s server, which hosts a database of pre-written tweets. As BG moves around his camp, he trips the sensors which then send relevant tweets. If he is munching at his food bowl, he’ll be sure to trigger a food-related tweet, for example.
Executive creative director at Hellocomputer, Kerry Friend said, “The Zoo does a wonderful job connecting with animal fans using many different traditional media, but it has steered away from the digital realm until now. Having acknowledged the many benefits of engaging with its target base using social media, it wanted an especially appealing way of doing so. Hellocomputer’s logic was that, since the thing that people love about the Zoo is its animals, it makes sense for an animal to tweet. The job has fallen on BG’s shoulders right now but there are plenty of interesting candidates, ones who are on the extinction list and who could become ‘spokesanimals’ for their species as well. Who knows what the future will bring.”
BG was selected because he is active during the day and at night. While Hellocomputer has written several rules to govern BG’s tweets limiting the number of tweets a day and an hour or the number of tweets triggered from one station, its server will log his exact movements as they trigger the sensors. This data will be retained and made available to the Zoo at a future date should it have a need to research or contribute to research being done into animal behaviour in captivity.
Johannesburg Zoo’s Brand & Communications Manager, Letta Madlala said, “While several of BG’s tweets will address his daily activities – such as his walks around the zoo which he takes on a lead, his mealtimes and his play times – we will obviously also be able to get him to promote special events at the Zoo and, when relevant, comment on current events.”
Follow BG at @zootweetslive or by following #tweetingbadger on Twitter.
Agency: Hellocomputer & Draftfcb Johannesburg
Director and Editor: Michael Kolbe (Blackenvelope Films)
Voice Artist: Tom Fairfoot
Sound Design: John Vichos (Freq’ncy Audio)
Technology design: Johan Pieterse, Nathan O’ Gates, Tom Van den Bon
Art Directors: Eras Gous, Moira-Gene Sephton Gous
Copywriters: Candice Hellens, Rory MacRobert
Executive Creative Director: Kerry Friend
Chief Creative Officer: Brett Morris