The Smithsonian has a youth problem. Today, the institution launched a national ad campaign it hopes will change that.
After conducting extensive research—-a national survey of 1,200 adults, focus groups, interviews with people in target demographics, etc.—-the Smithsonian discovered that most people they surveyed (89 percent) were aware of the institution, but people ages 18-24 were less likely to (77 percent). It also learned that half of their respondents had visited the museums, but in an email, Smithsonian Chief Spokesperson Linda St. Thomas says many of them reported being “dragged” there kicking and screaming.
We’ve already taken our shots at the campaign, called “Seriously Amazing”—-as in Half Baked II: Seriously Amazing or Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure III: Seriously Amazing—-but its images don’t blatantly pander. They’re framed around questions like, “What is part man, part fish, and all latex?”, and they feature posed images of attractive, diverse young people in kooky outfits.
The campaign, the first in the Smithsonian’s history, will place ads in Entertainment Weekly and People, and bedeck various spots in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, and of course, D.C. (including the Verizon Center). But it’ll focus more on digital media, since, duh, these are millennials they’re trying to reach.
The Smithsonian’s website, si.edu, will continue as normal, but seriouslyamazing.com will become “the place to go for answers to our intriguing questions,” says St. Thomas in an email. The website went live this morning. Its slogan: “Questions come alive at the Smithsonian.”