Los Angeles, CA (May 6, 2020) – What blows your mind? This question comes to life in a public engagement campaign designed to connect audiences with the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County’s (NHMLAC) mission: to inspire wonder, discovery, and responsibility for our natural and cultural worlds. The “What Blows YOUR Mind?” campaign encourages audiences of all ages and interests to explore, connect with, and share what inspires them at the Natural History Museum or La Brea Tar Pits—from beautiful butterflies to long-legged arachnids, shiny minerals to charismatic mammoths, curious dioramas to iconic architecture.
Now, nature and culture fans can participate in the campaign from the safety of their homes or smartphones, as the museums remain closed due to COVID-19 public health and safety measures.
At the 2020 Addys Awards, the American Advertising Awards industry recognition for creative marketing work, the “What Blows YOUR Mind?” campaign earned two Silver Awards: one for the local Los Angeles competition, and a regional award for District 15, which includes Southern California and Las Vegas.
As part of the campaign, NHMLAC reached out to subject experts, scientists, creators, and influencers to showcase “what blows their mind” about objects from the museums’ collections. The resulting short form videos highlight individual expressions of #MindBlownLA. Today marks the release of a new episode, NHM Creatures and Mark “Crash” McCreery, featuring the renowned film special effects artist who loves dinosaurs. Other WBYM episodes include The Science of Scary with Micheline Pitt and a walk through Los Angeles history with Bill Deverell and NHM's Shining Star. Fans can binge-watch the full #MindBlownLA video playlist on YouTube.
Mark “Crash” McCreery, renowned film special effects artist, shares what blows his mind: creatures at NHMLAC.
What Blows YOUR Mind Background
The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County typically theme advertising campaigns around new and seasonal exhibitions. This year, however, the museums were challenged to drive new and repeat attendance and online engagement increases during a time where no new major exhibitions would launch. The resulting “What Blows YOUR Mind?” campaign features objects, specimens, and experiences from our museums that amaze and delight visitors and encourage everyone to come see for themselves–and share with others–what blows their minds. The campaign centers on the use of user-generated content (UGC) to highlight the wide variety of evergreen experiences visitors can have.
“Everyone’s visit is unique and personal, which is why the campaign highlights a variety of experiences, showing there is something for everyone,” said Mara Naiditch, associate vice president of marketing and enterprise. “When open, we encourage guests to take pictures of their jaw-dropping visits along the way through the use of creative, intentional prompts, like selfie walls throughout the museum, and share their mind-blown experiences on social media using #MindBlownLA. The result, as we know from our "HowDoYouMuseum" campaign, is thousands of usable assets that we never would have been able to curate and a truly authentic look at visiting our museum in order to encourage others to do the same.” The campaign prompts the question, “What blows YOUR mind?” and drives visitors to discover quirky, self-guided smartphone tours designed to fit a variety of interests and personalities, including: the “First Date Tour,” “Fears and Phobias Tour” and “Hollywood Film Buffs Tour” among others. On-site, visitors are encouraged to share their mind-blowing moments on social media to win prizes.
Brian Bergeron, creative director at NHMLAC, emphasized participation as the campaign’s primary purpose. “When people connect with natural and cultural wonders, the mind-blowing potential is basically infinite!” Bergeron said. “We are honored by the Addy Award and hope this industry recognition only fuels our top goal: to inspire and engage communities. As museums of, for and with L.A., we are particularly proud of the local recognition.”
Mind Blown at Home - Engaging Audiences Online
While the museums navigate closure phases with a shift to all-digital public engagement, the NHMLAC creative team came up with new ways for audiences to continue to have minds blown, safety off-site with physical distance from home or smartphones.
DIY Instagram Feature A new do-it-yourself instagram treatment enables nature and culture fans to create their own mind-blowing selfies at home. How to participate: Watch this brief video tutorial, or follow the instructions below:
- Open Instagram, and tap the camera icon at the upper left corner.
- Swipe through the bottom navigation options and select “Layout.”
- Select the split screen layout, then add a Camera Roll image to the top half, and snap a selfie for the bottom.
- Share, tag #MindBlownLA, and participants may be featured.
“While the museums may be closed, our communities can remain connected,” Bergeron said. “We hope everyone takes time to show us what blows their mind in the app, and to share!” NHMLAC launched a digital portal, Connects, primarily as a way to connect fans through closure phases.
Emily Carlson, associate creative director at the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County, described the inspiration behind the campaign. “NHM is well-known for dinosaurs, but we have so much more! This campaign celebrates the diversity of both our audience and the experiences they’re having at our museums.” Carlson added, “This is the first integrated ad campaign created by our in-house team, so we’re thrilled to see it win an Addy!”
About the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County
The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC) include the Natural History Museum, La Brea Tar Pits, and the William S. Hart Museum. They operate under the collective vision to inspire wonder, discovery, and responsibility for our natural and cultural worlds. The museums hold one of the world’s most extensive and valuable collections of natural and cultural history—more than 35 million objects. Using these collections for groundbreaking scientific and historic research, the museums also incorporate them into on- and offsite nature and culture exploration in L.A. neighborhoods, and a slate of community science programs—creating indoor-outdoor visitor experience that explore the past, present, and future. Visit NHMLAC.ORG/connects–a digital portal through COVID-19 closure–for adventure, education, and entertainment opportunities.
**Interviews available upon request.**
Creative Director: Brian Bergeron
Associate Creative Director: Emily Carlson
Designers: Diana Pop, Michael Price, Logan Vandergrift, Matthew Herrera
Copywriter: Patrick Condo
Art Director: Jason Busa
Project Manager: Cristina Alberto
Portrait Photographer: Braden Summers
Hair/Make-up: Cat Sherwin
Wardrobe: Micah Bishop
Director of Photography: Joseph Seif
Talent Agent: Kelsey Adams
Object Photographer: Gina Cholick
Videographer #MindBlownLA videos: Edgar Chamarro
Client: Mara Naiditch, AVP Marketing & Enterprise, NHMLAC