Santa Barbara Zoo
Bark Back for Conrad
How I wrote this ad:
The Santa Barbara Zoo had a problem: nouveau neighbors, affronted by the normal sounds of
sea lions, had petitioned the city to have Conrad the sea lion removed from the zoo under the city's noise ordinance.
The zoo people explained the situation to me; what they wanted was an ad to rally the community
to their side, and they already had the headline for me, SOS (for "Save Our Sea lion").
But I knew nobody would understand that. Instead, in the headline I gave a call to action for
the public: BARK BACK FOR CONRAD, with a phone number for people to call. The phone
number in the ad was for City Hall.
The result was astonishing. For two days the City Hall switchboard was swamped by hundreds of
people who called and said "Oooort!" It was so much fun that the Los Angeles TV stations sent
camera crews to Santa Barbara to cover the story. Two days after the ad ran, the City Council had
a meeting and at the end of the meeting the mayor came out to the steps where the media awaited.
"What was the decision?" a reporter yelled.
The mayor grinned and said, "Oooort!"