Spotted! The ROM’s explosive launch

The museum turned its building into a virtual volcano to promote the start of its new Pompeii exhibit.

The Royal Ontario Museum made its own volcano to promote the launch of its new exhibit, Pompeii: In the Shadow of the Volcano, but not in the baking soda and vinegar way you might have in your younger years for science class.

Using the Toronto museum’s Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, it transformed the building into Mount Vesuvius through a mixture of lights, video and fireworks, during its weekly Friday Night Live event on June 12. The spectacle was building nightly all week, and culminated with a fake eruption of the faux-Vesuvius at 10 p.m.

Kathryn Brownlie, AVP of marketing, Royal Ontario Museum, says the experiential promotion is part of the ROM’s aim to attract a younger audience, especially those aged 18 to 35, who might not be museum goers. It’s the same group that it chases for its weekly Friday Night Live series, which is now in its 7th season and runs for eight weeks in the spring and fall.


The launch of the new exhibit is timed just ahead of the museum’s busy summer months. Brownlie notes the Pompeii displays are executed in a way that makes them more experiential than its typical museum-going experience with areas to take photos, try on togas and make a mosaic.

Promotions for the exhibit have been planned in partnership with the museum’s new agency, BT/A Advertising, which is handling the media and creative. In addition to the explosive display, the campaign is going heavier-than-usual on digital to reach that targeted younger demo, with additional advertising on streetcars, at Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport and during the pre-show at Cineplex movies.

The campaign is in market until next January, when the Pompeii exhibit leaves the ROM.