Marketer of the Year Emma Kiernan for AAI talk

Emma Kiernan, marketing manager, Dublin Zoo, who was named Marketer of the Year 2019 for her work in helping develop Ireland’s top family attraction and not-for-profit organisation welcoming over 1.2 million visitors a year, is the guest speaker at this month’s Association of Advertisers in Ireland (AAI) Toolkit breakfast talk. Kiernan will be joined at the Toolkit event by Colm Carey of The Research Centre who has worked on Dublin Zoo projects.

As the person responsible for driving revenue, Kiernan rolled out The Zoo TV series, now in its ninth season on RTÉ One, and the Wild Lights winter nights’ experience. She defined Dublin Zoo’s bullseye target market as Irish mums, age 24-44 with children under 12. Comprising 67 per cent of footfall, they are time poor and seek experiences in a safe, outdoor, educational and tech-free environment. Price is not an issue for the cohort, belief and trust count.

In 2009, Dublin Zoo had 19 per cent visitor expectation, jumping to 45 per cent two years ago.

When Kiernan joined the zoo in 2011, McVitie’s was the only sponsor, delivering €10,000 a year. But any marketing partnerships needed to reflect the core brand values of education, conservation and family. As a charitable trust, the zoo’s marketing budget was minimal. All ad spend was put on hold and the focus turned to PR and building media relations.

Kiernan’s previous experience was working with the Observer in the UK and Newstalk came in handy. In 2017, Kiernan launched Dublin Zoo’s first night-time experience. Wild Lights saw the zoo’s pathways replaced by a lantern trail inspired by wildlife. With a marketing budget of just €125,000, Kiernan looked to media sponsors for support.

In return for tickets to Wild Lights, the zoo signed up 98FM and INM. The first year sold out at 190,000 tickets, with over €3m in revenue. The second year sold out at 223,000 tickets. Since 2011, footfall at Dublin Zoo grew from 963,053 to 1.23m last year. The visitor profile has changed, from 63 per cent ABC1 in 2009 to 88 per cent ABC1 in 2017.

Marketer of The Year™ is organised by magazine and sponsored by Alternatives.

The Toolkit event is in Core’s offices at 8am on Tuesday, February 25.

Free to AAI Members – please register your attendance

€40 + booking fee for non-members 

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