Toronto Zoo gets viral with hissy spokesbug

Who knew cockroaches could rock out? The latest campaign for the Toronto Zoo stars a musically inclined Madagascar Hissing Cockroach named Jeb.

A wise-cracking, musically inclined Madagascar Hissing Cockroach named Jeb is the star of a new campaign for the Toronto Zoo, created by Toronto-based AOR Lowe Roche. This bug even has his own music video and biographic documentary at the microsite And given the uniquely captivating entertainment quotient, the site’s pass-along to a friend feature will no doubt acheive successful cyber infestation of the target demo.

‘The insight is that you have to make animals fun for kids,’ explains Shanna Young, executive director, marketing and communications for the Toronto Zoo. She adds that while the main target is 6-12, the exhibit should also appeal to teens and young adults. Young says she and her team were taken aback when Lowe Roche came back to them with a singing cockroach. ‘Omigod, we were just blown away. It’s so much fun. We weren’t expecting this. It’s such a catchy tune.’

The campaign aims to drive traffic to ‘Bugzibitz II,’ which is on throughout March break, March 9-18. The microsite will stay up for the rest of the year, though, to raise awareness about the zoo’s permanent bug installations. Young is coy about whether they have other plans in store for Jeb’s music video: ‘Right now, it’s just on the website. But who knows…’

Next week, web banners will start rolling out on the YTV, Treehouse and Sympatico MSN sites. Also beginning next week, print ads will break in the Toronto Sun. Media buys were handled by Toronto-based Round Table Advertising.