Animation Brings Tricky Topic to Life

Since 2015, GroundFloor Media and CenterTable have been proud to work on the Be A Smart Ash campaign. From naming to website development, campaign launch to ongoing education and awareness, the agency and client teams continue to thrive with this highly integrated campaign. With our next step, we will be bringing animation into the fold.

In fact, Be A Smart Ash recently earned the Ragan’s PR Daily 2017 award for Best Location-Based Campaign, adding to national industry kudos earned from the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) late last year.

How to keep up momentum

Three years into the campaign with emerald ash borer (EAB) still not identified in Denver, the team realized that focusing on awareness for the third year in a row could cause consumer fatigue. And with growing awareness about EAB came an increase in questions about just how to combat the pesky pest. So, the team decided 2018 was the perfect time to pivot to an action-oriented message focused on treatment options, just in time for prime treatment season.

Animation can make a tough topic accessible

While tree treatment might seem like an easy topic, it’s actually highly complex, involves a bit of chemistry, can be highly subjective and is difficult to demonstrate. In short – it’s a tough topic to tackle.

Enter GFM and CenterTable offspring – that’s right, our kids – who happen to love the PBS Kids show Wild Kratts. In each episode, the Kratt brothers morph into animated characters who have the ability to explore wildlife in a way they simply couldn’t as humans. Sprinkle in a few adversaries, some exciting plot twists and a heroes ending, and you’ve got a recipe for success in boiling a tough topic – like wildlife conservation – into something even our kiddos can understand.

Inspired by the Wild Kratts and a few creative brainstorms, The Smart Ash was born.

Have fun, but be accurate

Our creative services team has tackled animation before – but The Smart Ash character and his quest to defeat EAB in Denver offered a unique opportunity to let our every superhero fantasy play out within the liberal confines of the Be A Smart Ash brand, which is lighthearted bordering on irreverent its own right. The team let their imaginations run wild, but also worked closely with the client team of foresters to ensure that details from safety equipment, treatment tools and even how the various treatments work were accurate. A primary goal of this campaign was to be entertaining but informative – particularly when it comes to the importance of safety and working with a tree care professional to treat or remove trees.

Break video into bite-size pieces

With multiple treatment options and a bit of a backstory to tell, the final animated Smart Ash video is just under four minutes in length. Realizing we often have fewer minutes to tell the story and recognizing the value of episodic content – the team broke the final video into multiple episodes that are rolling out over the course of the next week. Through a multi-faceted campaign including social media (organic and paid), website, direct outreach to partners and onsite activations, the campaign will roll out in easily consumable episodes that make sense as part of a series but can also stand on their own. It’s too soon to measure success, but we’re betting our ashes it’s going to be an engaging campaign!

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