The Bronx Museum needed to increase attendance among local residents in the South Bronx, one of the poorest communities in North America. The cold exterior and lack of communication of what’s inside resulted in an impression of impenetrability and intimidation. Our observational research showed that passersby—even those who walked by the building twice a day—had no idea what it was. Also, a message of “for contemporary art lovers only” was unappealing to the local community.
I did what you recommended two years ago and it worked. I asked you for this campaign and it’s working. Good so far.
The website had the same issues as the museum exterior. It didn’t have any information about how to get in, what people are going to experience once inside, or how they might possibly fit in or benefit from the experience. In 2006, the museum completed a major building renovation, and the website made a point of showing it off. In the context of communicating accessibility to the local community, however, this presentation had some serious problems: It showed a fortress. It showed no door.
Research and analysis uncovered a variety of ways that the Bronx Museum could appeal more directly to the local community. Paying greater attention to the needs of this particular target allowed the institution to communicate a competitive advantage that was not previously understood.
We launched an ad campaign in NYC subway stations, bus shelters, and on the exterior of the museum, featuring local residents at museum events. These ads are not simply showing what’s on display—as is typical of the genre—but feature WHO is inside and the who, in this case, are everyday people: the general Bronx public.