Brown and white puppy running while looking at the camera

The Difference Between Pathogens And A Puppy’s Wet Nose

Sloppy dog kiss
Sloppy dog kiss

When the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services (SITES) asked Grafik to help brand a fun, informative, and interactive traveling exhibition titled “Outbreak,” we were just a little concerned—did the title really map to the described experience? Allow me to put this in context:

Challenge: An exhibition on zoonoses to be titled “Outbreak.”

Marketing Description: “Zoonoses are diseases that can move from animals to humans like rabies, Ebola, mad cow disease, avian flu, and, H1N1. They are increasingly common; 75% of recent emerging human diseases come from animals, and 60% of all human pathogens are zoonotic. The exhibition from the SITES and the American Veterinary Medical Association, takes a closer look at these diseases and the animals we love and rely on in a whole new way.

This engaging, highly interactive exhibition explores the critical health links between humans and animals. Veterinarians, physicians, and the entire medical and scientific community, play a critical role in this story. Working together they find ways to predict, prevent, and, cure the zoonotic diseases that threaten life across the globe.

Zoonoses Direct Mailers
Zoonoses direct mail package

Filled with games, videos, and hands-on components, and ideal for any age group, the exhibit probes the science, the genius, and the humanity that goes into keeping mankind healthy, in the face of so many dangerous pathogens.”

Now don’t get me wrong, the plans behind the exhibition looked great, but talk about a tough marketing sell. Note the conflicting message in the last sentence, “Filled with games… many dangerous pathogens.” As we approached the branding, we developed several concepts under the original “Outbreak” title, but couldn’t help but feel the name was working against the intention of the exhibition. We asked if we could suggest alternative names, and they agreed. We all decided to rename the exhibit Zoonoses.

This direct mail package targeted to museum curators is a set of oversized cards packaged in a silver tin case, highlighting key exhibit features. The front side of the cards is an array of cheerful animal close-ups combined with questions designed to help us tell the exhibition story from an inviting perspective. To convey the family-friendly nature of the exhibition design, we took our inspiration literally from the the new name, ZOO-NOSES. Who knew that the answer would be right under our noses? Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.

Our work on  Zoonoses won the first prize at the 2011 SPC Awards for the Best Fund-Raising/Membership Materials. Presented by the American Association of Museums’ Standing Professional Committees, those awarded were from hundreds of entrants in the fields of exhibit design, publications, and technological achievement among many.

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