Augmented Reality at Wellington Zoo

Wellington Zoo‘s Close Encounters exhibition is about getting face to face with an animal. Advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi had the challenge of inspiring newspaper readers to connect with the exhibition. In partnership with Hit Lab NZ, a human/computer interface research centre, software was developed to present ‘augment reality’ in which pictures could be interacted with on a mobile phone. The software was made available to mobile phones with live video capability. Mobile phone users point their phones at the printed box to see a 3D model of a giraffe, cheetah or Malayan sun bear – all animals that can be seen at the zoo. The ad, placed in a major newspaper, reached 750,000 people, leading to a 32% growth in visitors at Wellington Zoo.

Augmented Reality Cheetah in Wellington newspaper ad

Augmented Reality Bear in Wellington Zoo newspaper ad

Augmented Reality Giraffe in Wellington Zoo newspaper ad


The Augmented Reality campaign was developed at Saatchi & Saatchi NZ, Auckland, by executive creative directors Mike O’Sullivan, interactive creative director Brian Merrifield, creatives Tim Huse, Hywel James, Debs Gerrard, Dave Mygind, interactive producer Farah Iqbal, in-situ photographer Mat Baker, account director Elaine Bickell, account manager Hadleigh Churchill.

The augmented reality technology was developed at Hitlab New Zealand and The Hyperfactory.