Detroit Zoo: Wellness Study by Doner

Agency: Doner
Date: Apr 2019
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With anxiety and stress reaching record levels in America, the Detroit Zoo has just the antidote – a calming day among the giraffes, otters and the butterflies. It’s proving it through science with a new campaign launching just in time for the stress of tax day.

In partnership with creative agency Doner and Michigan State University’s Media and Advertising Psychology Lab, the new campaign features a new wellness study based on a series of “stress tests” measuring people’s physiological responses, to prove that people exhibit reduced levels of stress upon viewing animals living at the Detroit Zoo.

Participants in the study were hooked up to electrodes in a laboratory setting, given a verbal math test and asked to deliver an off-the-cuff speech. They were then separated into three groups and shown video of either a plain white screen, Detroit traffic or animals living at the Detroit Zoo. MSU scientists measured stress indicators such as heart rate, skin conductance and facial reactions, showing that stress levels were lowest among the subjects who viewed the animals. Participants were then introduced to otters, giraffes and butterflies at the Detroit Zoo. Pulses slowed. Heart rates decreased. Moods lifted. They reported feeling less stressed and anxious compared to when they started the lab procedure.

With the study launching on Tax Day, the Detroit Zoo is also targeting those who are tweeting about their April 15 anxieties with playful social gifs designed to alleviate moments of stress with little doses of Vitamin Z.

The new work builds on Doner’s 37-year partnership with the Detroit Zoo that has helped transform the zoo into a national destination. It also expands Doner’s partnership with MSU to scientifically create brand experiences that help people find their happy place.


Client: The Detroit Zoological Society

Agency: Doner

Partner: Michigan State University Media and Advertising Psychology Lab