Body Worlds Vital

Bringing an exhibition of human bodies to New Zealand was always going to be a bit challenging.

Even ‘plastinated’, preserved by replacing flesh and bodily fluids with plastic, the ick factor is still high. Our client also had a big goal in mind – 80,000 visitors over three months.

To make it a success, we looked at who might come along. Schools and people working in healthcare were a given. People interested in science and health were the next target. But to make this a success, we needed the broadest possible audience: anyone in Auckland who might attend a special event.

There were a few risks. Overseas, Body Worlds Vital has had some negative front-page press around morals. To avoid this, we worked with key communities early on, and avoided any major issues. Iwi consultation went well, especially when we explained the proven health benefits of attending the exhibition and learning more about how bodies work.

To attract a diverse audience, we were inspired by big comic book movies like Deadpool. The comic’s core fan base attends the movie, then they sweep everyone else up with their hype. For this event, our core fan base was schools, universities and people working in healthcare, so that’s where we started. Then we looked more broadly to health and science fans, who we got on board with publications like Healthy Food Guide.

But the big audience required the big guns. This included sending Tova O’Brien from Newshub to Dr Gunther von Hagen’s plastination centre in Germany, and a premiere event attended by all mainstream media. The exhibition’s creator Dr Angelina Whalley also did a media tour with a surprise in her handbag: a plastinated heart.

Our coverage reached a potential 3.1 million people across print, online and broadcast media. We generated more than $850,000 worth of coverage. And most importantly, we smashed through the attendance target, with more than 100,000 people seeing the exhibition.