Mpls Ad Firm Creates Song, Dance for Penguin Exhibit

Clarity Coverdale Fury's work for the Minnesota Zoo's new penguin exhibit brings together local talent for a multi-faceted advertising campaign featuring a song and dance, a television commercial, a music video, radio ads, and more.

Minneapolis-based advertising agency Clarity Coverdale Fury recently set out to capture what it calls the “infectious joy” that people associate with penguins.

“There's just a great energy that comes about when you think about penguins,” Rob Rankin, vice president and director of brand development, told Twin Cities Business on Monday.

The agency's theory: It's all about the waddle.

The company tapped local talent to produce a multi-faceted advertising campaign to promote the opening of the Minnesota Zoo's newest exhibit, called “3M Penguins of the African Coast.” The exhibit, which opened on July 9, features underwater viewing of penguins, as well as sandy beaches and rocky shoreline meant to mimic the birds' natural habitat on South Africa's Boulders Beach.

At the heart of the campaign is a song called the “Waddle Dance,” created by local studio musicians Hest & Kramer, frequent collaborators on Clarity Coverdale Fury projects.

For the associated dance, which can be seen in the video below, Clarity Coverdale Fury hired a professional Twin Cities dance troupe to choreograph the steps (or waddles), and also received some help from members of the Minnesota Timberwolves' dance team.


The dancers, dubbed the “Waddle Squad,” have participated in four parades and are scheduled to take part in Shakopee's Derby Days Parade on August 7. They hand out stickers, penguin masks, and other promotional items to raise awareness of the new exhibit. Clarity Coverdale Fury also plans to promote the exhibit at a St. Paul Saints game in August, and through yet-to-be-scheduled “flashmob” dances, according to Rankin.

Continuing on the trend of tapping local talent, Clarity Coverdale Fury teamed with a local band of high schoolers-called Q the Clique and featuring students from the School of Rock in Eagan-to produce a music video for the “Waddle Dance” song. The band includes the niece of the Minnesota Zoo's marketing director, as well as the son of Matt Fink, former Prince and the Revolution keyboardist. That video can be found here.

In addition to the television commercial and music video, the campaign features skyway ads, billboards, its own Web site, and other elements. View images from the campaign here.

Rankin said that his agency is still awaiting attendance data to see what effect the campaign has had on driving visitors to the zoo. “But a lot of anecdotal feedback is coming through strong,” he said, referring to letters that the zoo has received from members of the community and interactions he's had with parade-goers. “You can tell people are really energized by it.”

The Minnesota Zoo, a state agency, served more than 1.3 million guests last year, according to its Web site.

Next in the pipeline is a Facebook contest through which Clarity Coverdale Fury will accept video submissions of people doing the “Waddle Dance,” and ideas being floated for the prize include a “breakfast or dinner with the penguins,” Rankin said.

In other news, Clarity Coverdale Fury-which counts Medtronic, International Dairy Queen, and Purina Mills among its clients-was recently awarded a contract for marketing the Metropolitan Council's Metro Transit initiatives, Rankin said.