Chester Zoo Lanterns Creative Campaign

Building Anticipation for an Unmissable Christmas Event at the Zoo

Each year at Chester Zoo’s ‘The Lanterns’ event, wide-eyed children and parents experience an evening filled with Christmas joy, fantastical animal-shaped lanterns, wow-moments and of course, Santa Claus. Ultimate were tasked to bring an extra sparkle to the creative, aiming to increase exposure and drive bookings for the event.  

Ultimate has been fortunate enough to be involved with ‘The Lanterns’ for three years now and each year we have witnessed an increase in visitors and we wanted to make sure that this year was no exception. This year the brief was to make sure that we built up the excitement for the 2018 ‘Lanterns’ and position it as an entirely unique Christmas experience.

The Brief

Faced with a competitive pitch, Ultimate were over the moon to be given the chance to produce the creative for ‘The Lanterns’, in addition to a TV advert and microsite for the campaign.

For this brief, Ultimate wanted to recreate that warm, fuzzy feeling of Christmas in ‘The Lanterns’ creative, as well as a sense of uncontainable excitement for this must-go-to event. Whilst we were tasked to emphasise the magic of ‘The Lanterns’, it was essential that the creative tied back to the physical aspects of ‘Lanterns’ and the experience, ensuring that Chester Zoo could exceed visitor’s expectations on the day. Chester Zoo were eager to attract both new and previous visitors to ‘The Lanterns’ by capturing people’s festive anticipation in the build-up to the actual event.

The Ultimate team presented two creative concepts to Chester Zoo for the pitch and the Chester Zoo team were blown away by one in particular, our ‘Seeing is Believing’ concept.

Seeing is Believing

The ‘Seeing is Believing’ concept is all about creating that feeling of anticipation that you associate with Christmas. ‘The Lanterns’ is a night like no other. At a zoo like no other.

You really do need to see it to believe it.

The ‘Seeing is Believing’ concept was brought to life through a series of illustrations, that uses the contrast of light and dark to showcase the magic of the individual spectacles of ‘The Lanterns’, rousing excitement and allowing people to almost imagine themselves at the event.

By having certain elements lit up, and others hidden in darkness to create a sense of mystery and exclusivity. Only those people who visit the event will experience the true magic of ‘The Lanterns’.

This concept fed through into our TV advert, which will be aired on television this October and be featured in cinemas screens near you! The advert features a little boy gasping as the spotlight of his torch illuminates an animated penguin, creating a sense of magic and seamlessly weaving live action footage with animations based on the original illustrations.


Capturing the Magic Online

‘The Lanterns’ animations fed through into the microsite, which displays the different magical areas of the event: the Enchanted Woodland, Rainforest Aglow or Northern Lights where Santa will appear. These areas each highlight the astonishing journey that families will take at ‘The Lanterns’. We enhanced the microsite’s design with snow animations, movement and glow of text as users scroll to add that extra special twinkle to the content.  Our developers built the microsite mobile-first ensuring fantastic usability for users looking to book tickets on mobile devices.

Ultimate pushed Chester Zoo’s brief further by incorporating digital marketing. This involved our team carrying out extensive keyword research for SEO purposes.

These resources give Chester Zoo the freedom to independently create future pages and blogs for ‘The Lanterns’, but ensuring that they would rank highly on Google. All of Ultimates creative and technical strategies for Lanterns were conceived with the aim of attracting new visitors, increasing ticket sales and footfall at ‘The Lanterns’ 


“We needed to ensure that we presented ‘The Lanterns’ in an exciting and magical way, pinning it as a must-go to Christmas event, but also uniquely Chester Zoo.  We knew the ‘Seeing is Believing’ concept would be perfect for ‘The Lanterns’ this year. We absolutely can’t wait for people to see the creative come alive in the TV advert and be to be browsing the microsite, excitedly counting down for ‘The Lanterns’, and … perhaps Christmas too!”


Jenny Tegg, Head of Marketing, Chester Zoo