The consultancy began work on the project two years ago, and was tasked with helping the institution, which is the world’s largest museum and research complex, ‘better describe who they are today and help them set a course for the future’.
The new branding is centred around the strapline ‘seriously amazing’, aiming to encourage more young people to learn at the institution.
Wayne Clough, secretary of the Smithsonian, says, ‘We’re not just about our collection items but also the incredible discoveries, stories and learning opportunities they provide us all. This campaign offers us an historic moment to directly show the American people that we are much more than they ever thought.’
The initial campaign will be the first national branding and awareness campaign for the institution, and will run throughout October across digital, print and outdoor advertisements.
Centred on the theme Questions Alive, the advertisements use bright colours and a question mark image formed from photographs of young people ‘learning about the world Smithsonian-style.’
Each young person in the image represents a different area of expertise, such as The Discoverer, who ‘explores the world and the universe’, and The Green, who ‘reflects the wonder of the natural landscape’.
The characters are paired with questions they may ask the Smithsonian.
The campaign is accompanied by the new seriouslyamazing.com website, created by the digital agency Threespot.
‘We really wanted to do something fresh and unexpected with the campaign’, says Pherabe Kolb, associate director of strategic communications at the Smithsonian. ‘The fun look and feel of these ads, combined with the cool things they can learn on the seriouslyamazing.com website will help them see the Smithsonian in a new way.’