Kansas City Zoo

I was fortunate enough to work on the Zoo for three years. Below are some samples from each year, along with tales of challenges and solutions from each. 

Year One

The Zoo initially sent out an RFP to pretty much every agency in the Kansas City area. Bernstein-Rein offered to treat them as a pro-bono client if they’d just give us the business without a pitch. Which they did. They arrived with a couple of major problems in two. First, years of overly animal-centric (to the detriment of visitor experience) management had left the Zoo low on most families’ activities lists. Second, they had already purchased media and had little time and even less money (as in low five figures, seriously) for production. My partner and I tackled the latter by solving the former: We turned to the animals. We took it upon ourselves to shoot the television spots (that is not stock footage) and save what little money we had for the voice talent. The graphics were created by my AD Paul and we edited them ourselves with final output/conforming done at a post house. We ended up with a seven-spot campaign and two appearances on Adweek’s Best of TV list. The radio was edited by me using a very painful text-to-speech function and public domain clips of animal sounds. 

Family Style


Good Times




Year Two

Our second year on the gig saw the arrival of a slightly bigger budget from the client and the arrival of a British planner to the agency. I’ll refrain from diving into what a fiasco that was, but suffice it to say we ended up burying his strategy in the TV creative. “Health Alert” radio managed to snag a Radio Mercury Awards semi-finalist spot. Which does not come with a cash prize. Or proof that it even happened. Voice over is by Jim Cummings of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger fame.

The Talk

Year Three

For my final year on the account (before Paul and I were summarily split up for being, and I quote, “too spicy”), we were tasked with promoting a reptile exhibit. We only received one complain (and zero cease-and-desists) over using the trademark Plexiglas. Nice to have a client who approves of such shenanigans.

The Talk

KC Zoo vipers outdoor
KC Zoo Plexiglas outdoor

Art direction by Paul Prato