To connect with and inspire Disney fans following its acquisition by Disney, National Geographic created an immersive oceanic-inspired exhibit at D23 Expo: The Ultimate Fan Event, held Aug. 23-25 at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. The annual three-day event offers Disney fans “inside-the-magic” experiences and Disney brand activations.
Consumers were transported into the depths of the ocean to explore marine life through various seascapes enhanced by multisensory elements. Projection-mapping technology depicted the sights and sounds of life underwater in an experience called “Beneath the Blue” that leveraged National Geographic content.
Tying into its sustainability messaging for the exhibit, National Geographic enlisted San Francisco Bay area artists Joel De An Stockdill and Yustina Salnikova to create life-size sculptures of marine animals, like sea otters, Maui dolphins, reef manta rays, green sea turtles and jellyfish, all created from recycled single-use plastics and steel. The activation’s coral elements were created using recycled single-use plastics by Portland, OR, artist Richard Crawley. All in, some 8,400 recognizable pieces (straws, netting, clamshell containers and takeout boxes) of reclaimed plastic and metals were used to create the sculptures, helping educate consumers about the amount of single-use plastics that end up in the oceans.
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“National Geographic is really and truly about storytelling, so we stand on the side of science, we stand on the side of facts, and we stand on the side of planet,” says Amanda Hyland, vp-product and consumer marketing at National Geographic. “So we have this opportunity to unveil who we are to the Disney audience, and this superfan base, and we wanted to be as true to ourselves as possible.”
Attendees were invited to snap photos with the sculptures to spread the word about ocean conservation on social media and about the Planet Earth Plastic sustainability initiative the brand kicked off last year. They could also interact with virtual sharks and fish, and make a pledge via email to reduce single-use plastics by taking National Geographic’s “Planet or Plastic?” challenge.
“It was really the first time we were launching the brand in the Walt Disney universe and the Walt Disney family of brands, so our intent was to show that we weren’t this newly acquired piece, there is actually a lot of symmetry between the brands, so it was really this elevation of stories and messages we’ve already shared for a long time coming together in a really beautiful way,” Hyland says. Agency: Inspira Marketing Group, Norwalk, CT. Projection: Lumen & Forge.