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Business Observer Thursday, Jun. 11, 2020 1 year ago

Current affairs: Ad agency makes quick course correction for aquarium campaign

Dunn & Co. reduces fees in effort to aid a shuttered attraction's reopening.
by: Brian Hartz Tampa Bay Editor

After Tampa-based Dunn & Co. became the agency of record for the Florida Aquarium in October 2019, it drew up a marketing campaign called “Live in the Current." It focused on the aquarium's upcoming 25th anniversary celebration in 2020. 

As we’re all too aware now, 2020 has turned out to be more bizarre than anyone could have predicted, and so Dunn & Co., led by Vice President of Strategy Kamden Kuhn, went back to work. Its revised campaign for the aquarium, dubbed “Rejoin the Current,” focuses on renewing interest in — and attendance at — the tourist attraction now that it’s reopened in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdown. 

“The day that the aquarium closed, we started working on a reopening campaign,” says Kuhn, who’s been at Dunn & Co. for 10 years and has worked on campaigns for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rowdies, USF Athletics and Grow Financial Federal Credit Union. “Our goal, at the time that we were all so cooped up, asked the question, ‘How are we going to inspire a community?’” 

Courtesy. Because of the COVID-19 crisis, Dunn & Co. had to change its campaign for the Florida Aquarium from "Live in the Current" to "Rejoin the Current."

For Kuhn and her colleagues, answering that question started with a noticeable shift in tone — away from the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic and toward the fun and whimsy of the human-animal connection. 

“We were looking a lot at other COVID-19 messaging that was hitting the airwaves around that time,” she tells Coffee Talk, “and it all felt so very somber and reflective. We wanted to do something altogether different from what had become a formulaic approach to COVID-19 advertising. So that's why we took a much more optimistic and inspiring tone.” 

The first deliverable of Dunn & Co.’s “Rejoin the Current” campaign, a 30-second video, debuted on social media over Memorial Day weekend. It features local celebrities — including WWE superstar Titus O’Neil, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians and Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn — as well as members of the public puckering up their lips and making their best “fish face.” The clip juxtaposes human fish faces with actual fish at the aquarium and concludes with a call to action that urges viewers to make use of the aquarium’s new ticket reservation system. 

To view the “Fish Face” video, visit

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