Aquarium Marketing Officer Cindy Todd had her eye on Backyard Wilderness in
development at the GSCA conference for the last several years, knowing that it could be a perfect fit
for the mission of the Tennessee Aquarium, which is to “connect people to nature
and empower them to make informed decisions about water and wildlife.” Like the
Tennessee Aquarium, this film reveals what is truly extraordinary right in our
own backyard.

Campaign Goals,
Strategies and Tactics


  • Driving
    revenue and attendance for the IMAX Theater, particularly with school groups.
  • Driving
    revenue and attendance for the Tennessee Aquarium.
  • Using
    the new film as a catalyst to drive Aquarium spring break attendance.
  • Generating
    awareness of the film along with the Aquarium’s focus on conservation.
  • Creating
    desire to connect with nature and animals all around us.

and Tactics:

  • Using
    this film as the catalyst to drive attendance for both the Aquarium and IMAX
  • Creating
    an opening night event that would garner strong media attention.
  • Maximizing
    the advertising budget through media partnerships.
  • Collaborating
    with partners to drive attendance from new audiences.
  • Implementing
    a strong public relations campaign for the launch and premiere event with filmmaker
    Andrew Young.
  • Extensively
    using social media to drive excitement, awareness and attendance. Trying new
    methods like Facebook Live.
  • Implementing
    a 2-1/2-month advertising campaign that included a media mix of :15 and :30 TV
    spots, digital billboards and newspaper.
  • Promoting
    the film onsite at the IMAX box office and the Aquarium ticketing center.
  • Promoting
    the film to school groups and all hospitality industry partners.


premiere event was held on opening day March 16, 2018, with Academy Award-nominated,
Emmy-winning director and producer Andrew Young introducing the film. After the
screening, Andrew shared stories of how he and his team were able to uncover
some of the intricate secrets of nature that are hidden underwater, inside
animal dens and found from the treetops to the forest floor.

releases were distributed locally and regionally, and local media interviewed
Andrew Young.

film was promoted on the Aquarium’s website, the Chattanooga Convention and
Visitor Bureau and State tourism websites, and in two issues the Aquarium’s member
magazine, Riverwatch. They sent
evites and enewsletters to their databases announcing the film and the premiere
event. Social media mini-campaigns were implemented to share trailers,
fun facts, and promote the film premiere event.

included :15 and :30 second spots throughout the Chattanooga DMA on all stations,
Comcast networks, and EPB Fi networks and digital pre-roll on Xfinity.com. Digitals
billboards, various print ads, banner ads and Google Adwords also promoted the
film. Onsite the film was promoted with trailers, posters,
slides on the IMAX screen, video in the Tennessee Aquarium ticketing center,
and other signage.

Sales and Marketing sent the film press release to
state motor coach associations for inclusion in their e-newsletter, faxed every
hotel in town announcing the film, and made deliveries to welcome centers, the
Chattanooga Convention and Visitor Bureaus, and Lookout Mountain Attractions. Postcard
mailers and emails were sent to school groups, regional scouts, camps, churches
and other groups who have visited our theater in the past.  

the Aquarium’s team launched a “Backyard Scientist” spring break promotion
around the film to help drive both Aquarium and IMAX attendance. Working with
the Aquarium’s husbandry, education and conservation scientists, special animal
programming, animal trading cards spotlighting native species, and a “Backyard
Scientist” member night were developed to complement daily showings of the

about the film was also woven into news releases and social posts about the
Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute’s field research work on Spotted
Salamanders. Finally, a promotional video of Aquarium scientists working in the
field was produced for the giant screen. It’s shown before each screening of
the film. The last shot in this video is of a spotted salamander with a
tagline, “The Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute: Protecting The Wild
Around You.”

Backyard Scientist / The Wild Around You promotion helped attract regional
media attention, garnering live news coverage at the Aquarium from TV stations
in Knoxville, TN, Nashville, TN, and Atlanta, GA. Other in studio segments
about the film and spring break activities were secured in Birmingham and
Huntsville, AL.

launch was just the start of how the Aquarium marketed this film. As school began
in August, they sent their e-newsletter to over 4,600 teachers across the
region. Many of the species in the film can be seen in the southeast, so the
Aquarium featured some of the animals or activities that schools can do in
their own schoolyard to help encourage teachers to take students out in nature.


the month-long Spring break season, 53% of the guests were first-time visitors
to IMAX, a statistically significant increase of 11 points! School group
attendance was up slightly and comprised nearly half of all attendees.
Customer satisfaction
survey results showed 98% rated the film Excellent or Good, which is a strong
indication the Aquarium fulfilled the expectations set in the marketing

Aquarium was are happy to be fulfilling its mission goals with this film and
know that they are making a difference in the lives of many underprivileged children
who might not otherwise have a chance to consider what is in their own
backyards. In surveys at the Aquarium to measure mission impact, 50% of our
visitors said their visit inspired them to care more about protecting animals,
rivers, lakes and streams. This was up from 44% during spring break last year.

the best part of the marketing plan was recognizing that they could build a
compelling and mission-related overarching theme to drive spring break
attendance for both the Aquarium and IMAX. The film’s visuals, as well as the
strength of the Aquarium’s animal programming and conservation work, garnered
exceptional media coverage locally and regionally. In addition, the Aquarium enjoyed
robust social media engagement. This film now has the potential to be a
long-running, signature film for the theater, particularly for school groups.