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Re-Imagining Ocean Conservancy Education

In the most ambitious Makeover Challenge ever, competitors show their talents and their generosity by teaming up with a nonprofit to help children create lifelong relationships with the ocean and its creatures.

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THE 17TH ANNUAL edition of the Makeover Challenge represents the BXP community’s most ambitious yet as far as design deliverables and potential impact on society and our environment. In this issue, BXP unveils the strategies and concepts developed and donated by three spectacularly talented and generous agencies—Cuticone Design, Grupo imasD and Lundmark Advertising + Design. These agencies have been working with the South Carolina Aquarium, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, to re-imagine ocean conservancy education— specifically how to bring the magic of an in-person Aquarium visit home for children.

The nonprofit’s mission is to inspire conservation of the natural world by exhibiting and caring for animals, by excelling in education and research, and providing exceptional visitor experiences. So skilled is the South Carolina Aquarium in its mission that the nonprofit was one of only 10 recipients of the 2019 National Medal for Museum and Library Service—the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries that make significant contributions to their communities.

“We’re honored that BXP magazine thought of the South Carolina Aquarium as the brand of choice for the 2020 Makeover Challenge,” Amie Yam-Babinchak, South Carolina Aquarium’s director of marketing, sales and strategic communications, remarks. “This project is so relevant right now, given how the pandemic is changing the learning and entertainment landscape for families and how the South Carolina Aquarium is actively pursuing creative new ways to drive [donation, admission and other] revenue outside of traditional visitation.”

Yam-Babinchak invited Kayla Halchak, membership manager, South Carolina Aquarium, to the project in early 2020 as Halchak and Yam-Babinchak had already done some ideation on further outreach to the project’s target market—children—and how the Aquarium could best serve children through a Kids Club.

 Loggerhead sea turtle

This loggerhead sea turtle was rehabilitated at the South Carolina Aquarium and released back into the ocean off South Carolina’s Isle of Palms.

The Aquarium was then challenged by BXP to develop a project outline that fit into the competition’s limited time span of only a few months. Yam-Babinchak and Halchak decided the quickest path to delivering on the Makeover Challenge’s ambitious goals was to build on the original plans for a Kids Club.

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To ensure that the creative teams would have the best start possible, the Aquarium team developed a detailed creative brief that shared the goals for the Kids Club—four of which applied to the 2020 Makeover Challenge:

  • Keep kids engaged with the Aquarium with fun activities they could do at home
  • Build on children’s connections with water, wildlife and wild places
  • Stay engaged/connected with a vital audience/demographic even if they are not visiting because of COVID-19 concerns
  • Create an additional source of revenue for the Aquarium

To help launch a future Kids Club, the South Carolina Aquarium team asked the competitors to:

  • Design a Kids Club logo
  • Create a Kids Club membership card
  • Design a stamp book that drives participation in Kids Club activities
  • Design a Kids Club home page and lesson page for online learning

BXP also asked the competitors to develop a shipper so the Aquarium could send any materials that didn’t live online exclusively to the children’s and their parents’ doors.

And if that wasn’t challenge enough, the agencies were asked to keep mindful of the Aquarium’s budget because the nonprofit wanted to keep the Kids Club annual member-ship low so the club would be accessible to children in a wide range of socio-economic environments.

The South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston.

The South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston.

Because this project is so ambitious, not all of the original competitors stayed with the challenge. BXP thanks Cuticone Design, Grupo imasD and Lundmark Advertising + Design for accepting this challenge to better society through strategic design. A sentiment echoed by Yam-Babinchak. “Thank you for your participation in this project,” she says, “and for wanting to make a difference for our organization!”

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It’s now the BXP’s greater community’s opportunity to become a bigger part of the ocean conservancy education project. Please review each competitor’s concepts and strategy to vote for the package design, brand identity and website concepts that you believe can help the Aquarium achieve its ocean conservancy education goals and the collaborative strategies that could become best practices for brand and design agency collaborations.

Linda Casey is the editor-in-chief of BXP.

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